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v. 3 






















VOL. Ill 



i 9 i 6 



Articles on Castes and Tribes of the Central 
Provinces in Alphabetical Order 

The articles which are considered to be of most general interest 
are shown in capitals 


Gadaria (Shepherd) ...... 3 

Gadba (Forest tribe) ...... 9 

Ganda ( Weaver and labourer) . . . ...14 

Gandhmali ( Uriya village priests and temple servants) . . 17 

GARPAGARI (Averter of hailstorms) . . . .19 

Gauria (Snake-charmer and juggler-) . . . .24 

Ghasia (Grass-cutter) . . . . . .27 

Ghosi (Buffalo-herdsman) . . . . .32 

Golar (Herdsman) . . . . . -35 

GOND (Forest tribe and cultivator) . . . -39 

Gond-Gowari (Herdsman) . . . . .143 

Gondhali (Religious mendicant) . . . .144 

Gopal (Vagrant criminal caste) . . . .147 

Gosain (Religious mendicant) . . . . .150 

Gowari (Herdsman) . . . . . .160 

Gujar (Cultivator) . . . . . .166 

Gurao (Village priest) . . . . . .175 

Halba (Forest tribe, labourer) . . . . .182 

Halwai (Confectioner) . . . . . .201 

Hatkar (Soldier, shepherd) . . . . .204 

Hijra (Eunuch, rnendicant) . . . .206 

Holia (Labourer, curing hides) . . . . .212 

Injhwar (Boatman and fisherman) . . . .213 


Jadam {Cultivator) 

Jiidua {Criminal caste) 

Jangam {Priest of the Lingayat sect) 

Jat {Landowner and cultivator) 

Jhadi Telenga (Illegitimate^ labourer) . 

Jogi {Religious mendicant and pedlar) . 

J OS HI {Astrologer and village priest) . 

Julaha ( Weaver) 

Kachera {Maker of glass bangles) 

Kachhi {Vegetable-grower) 

Kadera {Firework-maker) 

Kahar {Palanquin-bearer and household servant) 

Kaikari {Basket-maker and vagrant) 

Kalanga {Soldier, cultivator) . 

Kalar {Liquor vendor) 

Kamar {Forest tribe) . 

Kan jar {Gipsies and prostitutes) 

Kapewar {Cultivator) . 

Karan ( Writer and clerk) 

Kasai {Butcher) 

Kasar ( Worker in brass) 

Kasbi {Prostitute) 

Katia {Cotton-spinner) . 

Kawar {Forest tribe and cultivator) 

Kayasth ( Village accountant, writer and clerk) 

Kewat {Boatman and fisherman) 

Khairwar {Forest tribe ; boilers of catechu) 

Khandait {Soldier, cultivator) . 

Khangar ( Village watchman and labourer) 

Kharia {Forest tribe, labourer) . 

Khatlk {Mutton-butcher) 

Khatri {Merchant) 

Khojah {Trader and shopkeeper) 

KHOND (Forest tribe, cultivator) 

Kir {Cultivator) 

Kirar {Cultivator) 

Kohli {Cultivator) 

Kol (Forest tribe, labourer) 


Kolam (Forest tribe, cultivator) 
Kolhati (Acrobat) 
Koli {Forest tribe, cultivator) . 
Kolta (Landowner and cultivator) 
Komtv (Merchant and shopkeeper) 
Kori ( Weaver and labourer) 
Korku {Forest tribe, labourer) 
Korwa (Forest tribe, cultivator) 
Koshti ( Weaver) 








6 5 . 











Gond women grinding corn 

Palace of the Gond kings of Garha-Mandla at Ramnagar 
Gonds on a journey .... 

Killing of Rawan, the demon king of Ceylon, from whom the 

Gonds are supposed to be descended 
Woman about to be swung round the post called Meghnath 
Climbing the pole for a bag of sugar 
Gonds with their bamboo carts at market . 
Gond women, showing tattooing on backs of legs . 
Maria Gonds in dancing costume . 
Gondhali musicians and dancers 
Gosain mendicant .... 

Alakhwale Gosains with faces covered with ashes . 
Gosain mendicants with long hair . 
Famous Gosain Mahant. Photograph taken after death 
Gujar village proprietress and her land agent 
Guraos with figures made at the Holi festival called 

Gangour .... 

Group of Gurao musicians with their instruments 
Ploughing with cows and buffaloes in Chhattlsgarh 
Halwai or confectioner's shop 
Jogi mendicants of the Kanphata sect 
Jogi musicians with sarangi or fiddle 
Kaikaris making baskets 
Kanjars making ropes 
A group of Kasars or brass-workers 
Dancing girls and musicians 
Girl in full dress and ornaments 





33 2 



91. Old type of sugarcane mill 

92. Group of Kol women 

93. Group of Kolfims . 

94. Korkus of the Melghat hills 

95. Korku women in full dress 

96. Koshti men dancing a figure, holding strings and beating 

sticks ....••• 




a has the sound of u in but or murmur. 


> 5) 

a in bath or tar. 


> ■>■> 

6 in ecarte or ai in maid. 


> J) 

i in bit, or (as a final letter) of y in sulky. 


1 JJ 

ee in beet. 

> >J 

o in bore or &w/. 


) )) 

u in put or ^«//. 


) J) 

oo in poor or &?<?/. 

The plural of caste names and a few common Hindustani words 
is formed by adding s in the English manner according to ordinary 
usage, though this is not, of course, the Hindustani plural. 

Note. — The rupee contains 16 annas, and an anna is of the same 
value as a penny. A pice is a quarter of an anna, or a farthing. 
Rs. 1-8 signifies one rupee and eight annas. A lakh is a hundred 
thousand, and a krore ten million. 




VOL. Ill 



i. General 7iotice. 5. Social customs. 

2. Subdivisions. 6. Goats and sheep. 

3. Marriage customs. 7. Blanket-weaving. 

4. Religion and funeral rites . 8. Sanctity of wool. 

Gadaria, Gadri. 1 — The occupational shepherd caste of 1. General 
northern India. The name is derived from the Hindi gddar notlce - 
and the Sanskrit gandhara, a sheep, the Sanskrit name being 
taken from the country of Gandhara or Kandahar, from 
which sheep were first brought. The three main shepherd 
castes all have functional names, that of the Dhangars or 
Maratha shepherds being derived from dhan, small stock, 
while the Kuramwars or Telugu shepherds take their name 
like the Gadarias from kuruba, a sheep. These three castes 
are of similar nature and status, and differ only in language 
and local customs. In 191 1 the Gadarias numbered 41,000 
persons. They are found in the northern Districts, and 
appear to have been amongst the earliest settlers in the 
Nerbudda valley, for they have given their name to several 
villages, as Gadariakheda and Gadarwara. 

The Gadarias are a very mixed caste. They themselves 2. Sub- 
say that their first ancestor was created by Mahadeo to tend divisi0ns - 
his rams, and that he married three women who were fascin- 
ated by the sight of him shearing the sheep. These belonged 
to the Brahman, Dhimar and Barai castes respectively, and 
became the ancestors of the Nikhar, Dhengar and Barmaiyan 
subcastes of Gadarias. The Nikhar subcaste are the highest, 
their name meaning pure. Dhengar is probably, in reality, 
a corruption of Dhangar, the name of the Maratha shepherd 

1 This article is based on information collected by Mr. Hira Lai in Jubbulpore, 
and the author in Mandla. 


4 GAP ARIA part 

caste. They have other subdivisions of the common terri- 
torial type, as Jheria or jungly, applied to the Gadarias of 
Chhattlsgarh ; Desha from desk, country, meaning those who 
came from northern India ; Purvaiya or eastern, applied to 
immigrants from Oudh ; and Malvi or those belonging to 
M.ilwa. Nikhar and Dhengar men take food together, but 
not the women ; and if a marriage cannot be otherwise 
arranged these subcastes will sometimes give daughters to 
each other. A girl thus married is no longer permitted to 
take food at her father's house, but she may eat with the 
women of her husband's subcaste. Many of their exogamous 
groups are named after animals or plants, as Hiranwar, from 
kirarty a deer ; Sapha from the cobra, Moria from the peacock, 
Nahar from the tiger, Phulsungha, a flower, and so on. 
Others are the names of Rajput septs and of other castes, as 
Ahirwar (Ahlr) and Bamhania (Brahman). 

Another more ambitious legend derives their origin from 
the Bania caste. They say that once a Bania was walking 
along the road with a cocoanut in his hand when Vishnu 
met him and asked him what it was. The Bania answered 
that it was a cocoanut. Vishnu said that it was not a 
cocoanut but wool, and told him to break it, and on breaking 
the cocoanut the Bania found that it was filled with wool. 
The Bania asked what he should do with it, and Vishnu told 
him to make a blanket out of it for the god to sit on. So 
he made a blanket, and Vishnu said that from that day he 
should be the ancestor of the Gadaria caste, and earn his 
bread by making blankets from the wool of sheep. The 
Bania asked where he should get the sheep from, and the 
god told him to go home saying 'Elian, Elian, EMn,' all 
the way, and when he got home he would find a flock of 
sheep following him ; but he was not to look behind him all 
the way. And the Bania did so, but when he had almost 
got home he could not help looking behind him to see if 
there were really any sheep. And he saw a long line of 
sheep following him in single file, and at the very end was a 
ram with golden horns just rising out of the ground. But 
as he looked it sank back again into the ground, and he 
went back to Vishnu and begged for it, but Vishnu said that 
as he had looked behind him he had lost it. And this was 



the origin of the Gadaria caste, and the Gadarias always say 
' Ehan, Elian', as they lead their flocks of sheep and goats 
to pasture. 

Marriage within the clan is forbidden and also the union 3- M ^r- 
of first cousins. Girls may be married at any age, and are "^ ol 
sometimes united to husbands much younger than themselves. 
Four castemen of standing carry the proposal of marriage 
from the boy's father, and the girl's father, being forewarned, 
sends others to meet them. One of the ambassadors opens 
the conversation by saying, ' We have the milk and you have 
the milk-pail ; let them be joined.' To which the girl's 
party, if the match be agreeable, will reply, " Yes, we have 
the tamarind and you have the mango ; if the panches agree 
let there be a marriage." The boy's father gives the girl's 
father five areca-nuts, and the latter returns them and they 
clasp each other round the neck. When the wedding pro- 
cession reaches the bride's village it is met by their party, 
and one of them takes the sarota or iron nut-cutter, which 
the bridegroom holds in his hand, and twirls it about in the 
air several times. The ceremony is performed by walking 
round the sacred pole, and the party return to the bride- 
groom's lodging, where his brother-in-law fills the bride's lap 
with sweetmeats and water-nut as an omen of fertility. The 
maihar or small wedding-cakes of wheat fried in sesamum 
oil are distributed to all members of the caste present at the 
wedding. While the bridegroom's party is absent at the 
bride's house, the women who remain behind enjoy amuse- 
ments of their own. One of them strips herself naked, tying 
up her hair like a religious mendicant, and is known as Baba 
or holy father. In this state she romps with her companions 
in turn, while the others laugh and applaud. Occasionally 
some man hides himself in a place where he can be a witness 
of their play, but if they discover him he is beaten severely 
with belnas or wooden bread-rollers. Widow-marriage and 
divorce are permitted, the widow being usually expected 
to marry her late husband's younger brother, whether he 
already has a wife or not. Sexual offences are not severely 
reprobated, and may be atoned for by a feast to the caste- 

The Gadarias worship the ordinary Hindu deities and 


6 GAD ARIA part 

4 . Keii- also Dishai Devi, the goddess of the sheep-pen. No Gadaria 

gion and m j to the s heep-pen with his shoes on. On entering 

funeral J ° ... ,, , , 

it in the morning they make obeisance to the sheep, and 

these customs seem to indicate that the goddess Dishai Devi x 

is the deified sheep. When the sheep are shorn and the 

fleeces are lying on the ground they take some milk from 

one of the ewes and mix rice with it and sprinkle it over 

the wool. This rite is called Jimai, and they say that it is 

feeding the wool, but it appears to be really a sacrificial 

offering to the material. The caste burn the dead when 

they can afford to do so, and take the bones to the Ganges 

or Nerbudda, or if this is not practicable, throw them into 

the nearest stream. 

5. social Well-to-do members of the caste employ Brahmans for 
ceremonial purposes, but others dispense with their services. 
The Gadarias eat flesh and drink liquor, but abstain from 
fowls and pork. They will take food cooked with water 
from a Lodhi or a Dangi, members of these castes having 
formerly been their feudal chieftains in the Vindhyan Dis- 
tricts and Nerbudda valley. Brahmans and members of 
the good cultivating castes would be permitted to become 
Gadarias if they should so desire. The head of the caste 
committee has the title of Mahton and the office is hereditary, 
the holder being invariably consulted on caste questions even 
if he should be a mere boy. The Gadarias rank with those 
castes from whom a Brahman cannot take water, but above 
the servile and labouring castes. They are usually somewhat 
stupid, lazy and good-tempered, and are quite uneducated. 
Owing to their work in cleaning the pens and moving about 
among the sheep, the women often carry traces of the peculiar 
smell of these animals. This is exemplified in the saying, 
' Ek to Gadaria, dusre lahsan Mae,' or ' Firstly she is a 
Gadaria and then she has eaten garlic ' ; the inference being 
that she is far indeed from having the scent of the rose. 

The regular occupations of the Gadarias are the breed- 
ing and grazing of sheep and goats, and the weaving of 
country blankets from sheep's wool. The flocks are usually 

1 The word Dishai really means probable that she was originally the 
direction or cardinal point, but as the sheep itself, 
goddess dwells in the sheep-pen it is 


tended by the children, while the men and women spin and 
weave the wool and make blankets. Goats are bred in 
larger numbers than sheep in the Central Provinces, being 
more commonly used for food and sacrifices, while they 
are also valuable for their manure. Any Hindu who thinks 
an animal sacrifice requisite, and objects to a fowl as un- 
.clean, will choose a goat ; and the animal after being 
sacrificed provides a feast for the worshippers, his head 
being the perquisite of the officiating priest. Muhammadans 
and most castes of Hindus will eat goat's meat when they 
can afford it. The milk is not popular and there is very 
little demand for it locally, but it is often sold to the 
confectioners, and occasionally made into butter and ex- 
ported. Sheep's flesh is also eaten, but is not so highly 
esteemed. In the case of both sheep and goats there is 
a feeling against consuming the flesh of ewes. Sheep are 
generally black in colour and only occasionally white. 
Goats are black, white, speckled or reddish-white. Both 
animals are much smaller than in Europe. Both sheep 
and goats are in brisk demand in the cotton tracts for 
their manure in the hot-weather months, and will be kept 
continually on the move from field to field for a month at 
a time. It is usual to hire flocks at the rate of one rupee a 
hundred head for one night ; but sometimes the cultivators 
combine to buy a large flock, and after penning them on 
their fields in the hot weather, send them to Nagpur in the 
beginning of the rains to be disposed of. The Gadaria was 
formerly the bete noir of the cultivator, on account of the 
risk incurred by the crops from the depredations of his sheep 
and goats. This is exemplified in the saying : 

Ahlr, Gadaria, Past, 
Yeh tinon satyandsi, 

or, ' The Ahlr (herdsman), the Gadaria and the Pasi, these 
three are the husbandmen's foes.' And again : 

A Mr, Gadaria, Gujar, 
Yeh tinon chahen ujar, 

or 'The Ahlr, the Gadaria and the Gujar want waste land,' that 
is for grazing their flocks. But since the demand for manure 
has arisen, the Gadaria has become a popular personage 


in the village. The shepherds whistle to their flocks to 
guide them, and hang bells round the necks of goats but not 
of sheep. Some of them, especially in forest tracts, train 
ordinary pariah dogs to act as sheep-dogs. As a rule, rams 
and he-goats are not gelt, but those who have large flocks 
sometimes resort to this practice and afterwards fatten the 
animals up for sale. They divide their sheep into five 
classes, as follows, according to the length of the ears : 
Kanari, with ears a hand's length long ; Semri, somewhat 
shorter ; Burhai, ears a forefinger's length ; Churia, ears as 
long as the little finger ; and N^ori, with ears as long only 
as the top joint of the forefinger. Goats are divided into two 
classes, those with ears a hand's length long being called 
Bangalia or Bagra, while those with small ears a forefinger's 
length are known as Gujra. 
7 . Blanket- While ordinary cultivators have now taken to keeping 

goats, sheep are still as a rule left to the Gadarias. These 
are of course valued principally for their wool, from which 
the ordinary country blanket is made. The sheep 1 are shorn 
two or sometimes three times a year, in February, June and 
September, the best wool being obtained in February from 
the cold weather coat. Members of the caste commonly shear 
for each other without payment. The wool is carded with a 
kamtha, or simple bow with a catgut string, and spun by the 
women of the household. Blankets are woven by men on a 
loom like that used for cotton cloth. The fabric is coarse 
and rough, but strong and durable, and the colour is usually 
a dark dirty grey, approaching black, being the same as that 
of the raw material. Every cultivator has one of these, 
and the various uses to which it may be put are admirably 
described by ' Eha ' as follows : 2 

"The kammal is a home-spun blanket of the wool of 
black sheep, thick, strong, as rough as a farrier's rasp, and 
of a colour which cannot get dirty. When the Kunbi 
(cultivator) comes out of his hole in the morning it is 
wrapped round his shoulders and reaches to his knees, 

1 The following particulars are taken ed., p. 219. In the quotation the 
from the Central P, .,/ Hindustani word kammal, commonly 
on Woollen Industries, by Mr. J. T. used in the Central Provinces, is sub- 
Marten, stituted for the Marathi word kambli. 

'-' A Naturalist on the Prowl, 3rd 

ii GADBA 9 

guarding him from his great enemy, the cold, for the thermo- 
meter is down to 6o° Fahrenheit. By- and -by he has a 
load to carry, so he folds his kammal into a thick pad and 
puts it on the top of his head. Anon he feels tired, so he 
lays down his load, and arranging his kammal as a cushion, 
sits with comfort on a rugged rock or a stony bank, and has 
a smoke. Or else he rolls himself in it from head to foot, 
like a mummy, and enjoys a sound sleep on the roadside. 
It begins to rain, he folds his kammal into an ingenious cowl 
and is safe. Many more are its uses. I cannot number 
them all. Whatever he may be called upon to carry, be it 
forest produce, or grain or household goods, or his infant 
child, he will make a bundle of it with his kammal and poise 
it on his head, or sling it across his back, and trudge away." 

Wool is a material of some sanctity among the Hindus. 8. Sanctity 
It is ceremonially pure, and woollen clothing can be worn ofw ° o1 - 
by Brahmans while eating or performing sacred functions. 
In many castes the bridegroom at a wedding has a string 
of wool with a charm tied round his waist. Religious 
mendicants wear jatas or wigs of sheep's wool, and often 
carry woollen charms. The beads used for counting prayers 
are often of wool. The reason for wool being thus held 
sacred may be that it was an older kind of clothing used 
before cotton was introduced, and thus acquired sanctity by 
being worn at sacrifices. Perhaps the Aryans wore woollen 
clothing when they entered India. 

Gadba, Gadaba. 1 — A primitive tribe classified as Mundari i. Descrip- 
or Kolarian on linguistic grounds. The word Gadba, 5^^ 
Surgeon-Major Mitchell states, signifies a person who carries of the 
loads on his shoulders. The tribe call themselves Guthau. 
They belong to the Vizagapatam District of Madras, and in 
the Central Provinces are found only in the Bastar State, 
into which they have immigrated to the number of some 
700 persons. They speak a Mundari dialect, called Gadba, 
after their tribal name, and are one of the two Mundari 
tribes found so far south as Vizagapatam, the other being 

1 This article is compiled from an Report on Bastar (Selections from the 

excellent monograph contributed by Sur- Records of the Government of India in 

geon-Major Mitchell of Bastar State, the Foreign Department, No. 39 of 

with extracts from Colonel Glasfurd's 1863). 



the Savars. 1 Their tribal organisation is not very strict, 
and a Bhatra, a Parja, a Muria, or a member of any superior 
caste may become a Gadba at an expenditure of two or 
three rupees. The ceremony consists of shaving the body 
of the novice, irrespective of sex, clean of hair, after which 
he or she is given to eat rice cooked in the water of the 
Ganges. This is followed by a feast to the tribe in which a 
pig must be killed. The Gadbas have totemistic exogamous 
septs, usually named after animals, as gutal dog, angivan 
bear, dungra tortoise, surangai tiger, gumal snake, and so 
on. Members of each sept abstain from killing or injuring 
the animal or plant after which it is named, but they have 
no scruple in procuring others to do this. Thus if a snake 
enters the hut of a person belonging to the Gumal sept, he 
will call a neighbour of another sept to kill it. He may not 
touch its carcase with his bare hand, but if he holds it 
through a piece of rag no sin is incurred. 
Mar- Marriage is adult, but the rule existing in Madras that 

a girl is not permitted to marry until she can weave her 
own cloth does not obtain in the Central Provinces. 2 As a 
rule the parents of the couple arrange the match, but the 
wishes of the girl are sometimes consulted and various 
irregular methods of union are recognised. Thus a man 
is permitted with the help of his friends to go and carry off 
a girl and keep her as his wife, more especially if she is a 
relation on the maternal side more distant than a first 
cousin. Another form is the Paisa Mundi, by which a 
married or unmarried woman may enter the house of a 
man of her caste other than her husband and become his 
wife ; and the Upaliya, when a married woman elopes with 
a lover. The marriage ceremony is simple. The bride- 
groom's party go to the girl's house, leaving the parents 
behind, and before they reach it are met and stopped by a 
bevy of young girls and men in their best clothes from the 
bride's village. A girl comes forward and demands a ring, 
which one of the men of the wedding party places on her 
finger, and they then proceed to the bride's house, where the 
bridegroom's presents, consisting of victuals, liquor, a cloth, 

1 India Census Report (1901), p. 2 Madras Census Report (1891), p 

283. 253 . 


and two rupees, are opened and carefully examined. If any 
deficiency is found, it must at once be made good. The 
pair eat a little food together, coloured rice is applied to 
their foreheads, and on the second day a new grass shed is 
erected, in which some rice is cooked by an unmarried girl. 
The bride and bridegroom are shut up in this, and two pots 
of water are poured over them from the roof, the marriage 
being then consummated. If the girl is not adult this cere- 
mony is omitted. Widow-marriage is permitted by what is 
called the tika form, by which a few grains of rice coloured 
with turmeric are placed on the foreheads of the pair and 
they are considered as man and wife. There is no regular 
divorce, but if a married woman misbehaves with a man of 
the caste, the husband goes to him with a few friends and 
asks whether the story is true, and if the accusation is ad- 
mitted demands a pig and liquor for himself and his friends 
as compensation. If these are given he does not turn his 
wife out of his house. A liaison of a Gadba woman with a 
man of a superior caste is also said to involve no penalty, 
but if her paramour is a low -caste man she is excom- 
municated for ever. In spite of these lax rules, however, 
Major Mitchell states that the women are usually very 
devoted to their husbands. Mr. Thurston l notes that 
among the Bonda Gadabas a young man and a maid retire 
to the jungle and light a fire. Then the maid, taking a 
burning stick, places it on the man's skin. If he cries out 
he is unworthy of her, and she remains a maid. If he does 
not, the marriage is at once consummated. The application 
of the brand is probably light or severe according to the 
girl's feelings towards the young man. 

The Gadbas worship Burhi Mata or Thakurani Mata, 3- Reii- 
who is the goddess of smallpox and rinderpest. They offer bdiefs and 
to her flowers and incense when these diseases are prevalent festivals. 
among men or cattle, but if the epidemic does not abate 
after a time, they abuse the goddess and tell her to do her 
worst, suspending the offerings. They offer a white cock 
to the sun and a red one to the moon, and various other 
deities exercise special functions, Bhandarin being the 
goddess of agriculture and Dharni of good health, while 

1 Ethnographic Notes in Southern India, p. 22. 

1 2 GADBA part 

Bharwan is the protector of cattle and Dand Devi of men 
from the attacks of wild beasts. They have vague notions 
of a heaven and hell where the sinful will be punished, and 
also believe in re -birth. But these ideas appear to be 
borrowed from their Hindu neighbours. When the new 
rice crop is ripe, the first-fruits are cooked and served to 
the cattle in new bamboo baskets, and are then partaken of 
by men. The ripening of the mango crop is also an im- 
portant festival. In the bright fortnight of Chait (March) 
the men go out hunting, and on their return cook the game 
before Matideo, the god of hunting, who lives in a tree. 
In Madras the whole male population turn out to hunt, and 
if they come back without success the women pelt them 
with cowdung on their return. If successful, however, they 
have their revenge on the women in another way. 1 On 
festival days men and women dance together to the music 
of a pipe and drum. Sometimes they form a circle, holding 
long poles, and jump backwards and forwards to and from 
the centre by means of the pole ; or the women dance 
singly or in pairs, their hands resting on each other's waists. 
A man and woman will then step out of the crowd and sing 
at each other, the woman reflecting on the man's ungainly 
appearance and want of skill as a cultivator or huntsman, 
while the man retorts by reproaching her with her ugliness 
and slatternly habits. 2 
4. Disposal The dead are buried with their feet to the west, ready 

to start for the region of the setting sun. On their return 
from the funeral the mourners stop on the way, and a fish 
is boiled and offered to the dead. An egg is cut in half 
and placed on the ground, and pieces of mango bark are 
laid beside it on which the mourners tread. The women 
accompany the corpse, and in the meantime the house of 
the dead person is cleaned with cowdung by the children 
left behind. On the first day food is supplied to the 
mourners by their relatives, and in the evening some cooked 
rice and vegetables are offered to the dead. The mourning 
lasts for nine days, and on the last day a cow or bullock is 
killed with the blunt head of an axe, the performance of 

> Madras Census Report (1891), p. 2 Report on the Dependency of Bastar, 

2 53- p. 37. 

of the 


this function being hereditary in certain families of the caste. 
Some blood from the animal and some cooked rice are put 
in leaf-cups and placed on the grave by the head of the 
corpse. The animal is cooked and eaten by the grave, and 
they then return to the cooking shed and place its jawbone 
under a stick .supported on two others, blood and cooked 
rice being again offered. The old men and women bathe in 
warm water, and all return to the place where the dead man 
breathed his last. Here they drink and have another meal 
of rice and beef, which is repeated on the following day, and 
the business of committing the dead to the ancestors is 
complete. Liquor is offered to the ancestors on feast days. 

The caste are cultivators and labourers, while some are s . occupa- 
employed as village watchmen, and others are hereditary tlon and 

_ j . . . mode of to the Raja of Bastar, enjoying a free grant of living. 
land. They practise shifting cultivation, cleaning a space by 
indiscriminate felling in the forest, and roughly ploughing 
the ground for a single broad -cast crop of rice ; in the 
following year the clearing is usually abandoned. Their 
dress is simple, though they now wear ordinary cloth. Forty 
years ago it is said that they wore coverings made from the 
bark of the kuring tree and painted with horizontal bands of 
red, yellow and blue. 1 A girdle of the thickness of a man's 
arm made from fine strips of bark is still worn and is a dis- 
tinguishing feature of the Gadba women. They also carry 
a circlet round their forehead of the seeds of kusa grass 
threaded on a string. Both men and women wear enormous 
earrings, the men having three in each ear. The Gadbas are 
almost omnivorous, and eat flesh, fish, fowls, pork, buffaloes 
crocodiles, non-poisonous snakes, large lizards, frogs, sparrows, 
crows and large red ants. They abstain only from the flesh 
of monkeys, horses and asses. A Gadba must not ride on a 
horse under penalty of being put out of caste. Mr. Thurston 2 
gives the following reason for this prejudice : — " The Gadbas 
of Vizagapatam will not touch a horse, as they are palanquin- 
bearers, and have the same objection to a rival animal as a 
cart-driver has to a motor-car." They will eat the leavings of 
other castes and take food from all except the impure ones, 

1 Report on the Dependency of Bastar,' 2 Ethnographic Notes in Southern 

p. 37- India, p. 270. 

, 4 gAnda rART 

but like the Mehtars and Ghasias elsewhere they will not 
take food or water from a Kayasth. Only the lowest castes 
will eat with Gadbas, but they are not considered as impure, 
and are allowed to enter temples and take part in religious 

, Distri- Ganda. — A servile and impure caste of Chota Nagpur 

bution and an( j the xj r jy a Districts. They numbered 278,000 persons 
in 1 90 1, resident largely in Sambalpur and the Uriya States, 
but since the transfer of this territory to Bengal, only about 
150,000 Gandas remain in the Central Provinces in Raipur, 
Bilaspur and Raigarh. In this Province the Gandas have 
become a servile caste of village drudges, acting as watchmen, 
weavers of coarse cloth and musicians. They are looked on 
as an impure caste, and are practically in the same position 
as the Mehras and Chamars of other Districts. In Chota 
Nagpur, however, they are still in some places recognised as 
a primitive tribe, 1 being generally known here as Pan, Pab 
or Chik. Sir H. Risley suggests that the name of Ganda may 
be derived from Gond, and that the Pans may originally 
have been an offshoot of that tribe, but no connection between 
the Gandas and Gonds has been established in the Central 

The subcastes reported differ entirely from those recorded 
in Orissa. In the Central Provinces they are mainly occupa- 
tional. Thus the Bajna or Bajgari are those who act as 
musicians at feasts and marriages ; the Mang or Mangia 
make screens and mats, while their women serve as mid- 
wives ; the Dholias make baskets ; the Doms skin cattle and 
the Nagarchis play on nakkaras or drums. Panka is also re- 
turned as a subcaste of Ganda, but in the Central Provinces 
the Pankas are now practically a separate caste, and consist 
of those Gandas who have adopted Kabirpanthism and have 
thereby obtained some slight rise in status. In Bengal Sir 
H. Risley mentions a group called Patradias, or slaves and 
menials of the Khonds, and discusses the Patradias as 
follows : — " The group seems also to include the descendants 
of Pans, who sold themselves as slaves or were sold as Merias 
or victims to the Khonds. We know that an extensive 

1 Risley, Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Pan. 



traffic in children destined for human sacrifice used to go on 
in the Khond country, and that the Pans were the agents 
who sometimes purchased, but more frequently kidnapped, 
the children, whom they sold to the Khonds, and were so 
debased that they occasionally sold their own offspring, 
though they knew of course the fate that awaited them. 1 
Moreover, apart from the demand for sacrificial purposes, the 
practice of selling men as agricultural labourers was until a 
few years ago by no means uncommon in the wilder parts 
of the Chota Nagpur Division, where labour is scarce and 
cash payments are almost unknown. Numbers of formal 
bonds have come before me, whereby men sold themselves 
for a lump sum to enable them to marry." The above 
quotation is inserted merely as an interesting historical 
reminiscence of the Pans or Gandas. 

The Gandas have exogamous groups or septs of the usual 3 . Mar- 
low-caste type, named after plants, animals or other inanimate riage - 
objects. Marriage is prohibited within the sept, and between 
the children of two sisters, though the children of brothers 
and sisters may marry. If a girl arrives at maturity without 
a husband having been found for her, she is wedded to a 
spear stuck up in the courtyard of the house, and then given 
away to anybody who wishes to take her. A girl going 
wrong with a man of the caste is married to him by the 
ceremony employed in the case of widows, while her parents 
have to feed the caste. But a girl seduced by an outsider is 
permanently expelled. The betrothal is marked by a present 
of various articles to the father of the bride. Marriages 
must not be celebrated during the three rainy months of 
Shrawan, Bhadon or Kunwar, nor during the dark fortnight 
of the month, nor on a Saturday or Tuesday. The marriage- 
post is of the wood of the mahua tree, and beneath it are 
placed seven cowries and seven pieces of turmeric. An 
elderly male member of the caste known as the Sethia con- 
ducts the ceremony, and the couple go five times round the 
sacred pole in the morning and thrice in the evening. When 
the bride and bridegroom return home after the wedding, an 
image of a deer is made with grass and placed behind the 

1 The human sacrifices of the Khonds were suppressed about i860. See the 
article on that tribe. 

l6 GANDA part 

car of the bride. The bridegroom then throws a toy arrow 
at it made of grass or thin bamboo, and is allowed seven 
shots. If he fails to knock it out of her ear after these the 
bride's brother takes it and runs away and the bridegroom 
must follow and catch him. This is clearly a symbolic 
process representing the chase, of the sort practised by the 
Khonds and other primitive tribes, and may be taken as a 
reminiscence among the Gandas of their former life in the 
forests. The remarriage of widows is permitted, and the 
younger brother of the deceased husband takes his widow if 
he wishes to do so. Otherwise she may marry whom she 
pleases. A husband may divorce his wife for adultery before 
the caste committee, and if she marries her lover he must 
repay to the husband the expenses incurred by the latter 
on his wedding. 

4 . Reii- The Gandas principally worship Dulha Deo, the young 

bridegroom who was carried off by a tiger, and they offer 
a goat to him at their weddings. They observe the Hindu 
fasts and festivals, and at Dasahra worship their musical 
instruments and the weaver's loom. Being impure, they 
do not revere the tulsi plant nor the banyan or pipal trees. 
Children are named on the sixth day after birth without 
any special ceremony. The dead are generally buried from 
motives of economy, as with most families the fuel required 
for cremation would be a serious item of expenditure. A 
man is laid on his face in the grave and a woman on her 
back. Mourning is observed for three days, except in the 
case of children under three years old, whose deaths entail 
no special observances. On the fourth day a feast is given, 
and when all have been served, the chief mourner takes 
a little food from the plate of each guest and puts it in 
a leaf-cup. He takes another leaf-cup full of water and 
places the two outside the house, saying ' Here is food for 
you ' to the spirit of the departed. 

5. Occupa- The Gandas are generally employed either in weaving 
Jociai nd coarse clotn or as village musicians. They sing and dance 
status. to the accompaniment of their instruments, the dancers 

generally being two young boys dressed as women. They 
have long hair and put on skirts and half-sleeved jackets, 
with hollow anklets round their feet filled with stones to 


make them tinkle. On their right shoulders are attached 
some peacocks' feathers, and coloured cloths hang from 
their back and arms and wave about when they dance. 
Among their musical instruments is the sing-bdja, a single 
drum made of iron with ox-hide leather stretched over 
it ; two horns project from the sides for purposes of 
decoration and give the instrument its name, and it is 
beaten with thick leather thongs. The dafla is a wooden 
drum open on one side and covered with a goat-skin on 
the other, beaten with a cane and a bamboo stick. The 
timki is a single hemispherical drum of earthenware ; and 
the sahnai is a sort of bamboo flute. The Gandas of 
Sambalpur have strong criminal tendencies which have 
recently called for special measures of repression. Never- 
theless they are usually employed as village watchmen in 
accordance with long-standing custom. They are considered 
as impure and, though not compelled actually to live apart 
from the village, have usually a separate quarter and are 
not permitted to draw water from the village well or to 
enter Hindu temples. Their touch defiles, and a Hindu 
will not give anything into the hands of one of the caste 
while holding it himself, but will throw it down in front 
of the Ganda, and will take anything from him in the same 
manner. They will admit outsiders of higher rank into the 
caste, taking from them one or two feasts. And it is 
reported that in Raipur a Brahman recently entered the 
caste for love of a Ganda girl. 

Gandhmali, 1 Thanapati. — The caste of village priests 
of the temples of Siva or Mahadeo in Sambalpur and the 
Uriya States. They numbered about 700 persons in the 
Central Provinces in 191 1. The caste appears to be an 
offshoot of the Malis or gardeners, differentiated from 
them by their special occupation of temple attendants. In 
Hindustan the priests of Siva's temples in villages are often 
Malis, and in the Maratha country they are Guraos, another 
special caste, or Phulmalis. Some members of the caste 
in Sambalpur, however, aspire to Rajput origin and wear 

1 This article is compiled from Sarangarh, and Satyabadi Misra of the 
papers by Mr. Jhanjhan Rai, Tahsildar, Sambalpur Census office. 

VOL. Ill C 

,3 GANDHMALI part 

the sacred thread. These prefer the designation of Thana- 

pati or ' Master of the sacred place,' and call the others 

who do not wear the thread Gandhmalis. Gandh means 

incense. The Thanapatis say that on one occasion a Rajput 

prince from Jaipur made a pilgrimage to the temple of 

Jagannath at Puri, and on his return stopped at the 

celebrated temple of Mahadeo at Huma near Sambalpur. 

Mahadeo appeared before the prince and asked him to 

become his priest ; the Rajput asked to be excused as he 

was old, but Mahadeo promised him three sons, which he 

duly obtained and in gratitude dedicated them to the 

service of the god. From these sons the Thanapatis say 

that they are descended, but the claim is no doubt quite 

illusory. The truth is, probably, that the Thanapatis are 

priests of the temples situated in towns and large villages, 

and owing to their calling have obtained considerable social 

estimation, which they desire to justify and place on an 

enduring basis by their claim to Rajput ancestry ; while 

the Gandhmalis are village priests, more or less in the 

position of village menials and below the cultivating castes, 

and any such pretensions would therefore in their case be 

quite untenable. There are signs of the cessation of 

intermarriage between the two groups, but this has not 

been brought about as yet, probably owing to the paucity of 

members in the caste and the difficulty of arranging matches. 

Three functional subdivisions also appear to be in process 

of formation, the Pujaris or priests of Mahadeo's temples, 

the Bandhadias or those who worship him on the banks 

of tanks, and the Mundjhulas x or devotees of the goddess 

Somlai in Sambalpur, on whom the inspiration of the 

goddess descends, making them shake and roll their heads. 

When in this state they are believed to drink the blood 

flowing from goats sacrificed in the temple. For the 

purposes of marriage the caste is divided into exogamous 

groups or bargas, the names of which are usually titles 

or designations of offices. Marriage within the barga is 

prohibited. When the bride is brought to the altar in the 

marriage ceremony, she throws a garland of jasmine flowers 

on the neck of the bridegroom. This custom resembles 

1 Mund-jkul&na, to swiri" the head. 


the old Swayamwara form of marriage, in which a girl 
chose her own husband by throwing a garland of flowers 
round his neck. But it probably has no connection with 
this and merely denotes the fact that the caste are gardeners 
by profession, similar ceremonies typifying the caste calling 
being commonly performed at marriages, especially among 
the Telugu castes. Girls should be married before adoles- 
cence and, as is usual among the Uriya castes, if no suitable 
husband is forthcoming a symbolic marriage is celebrated ; 
the Thanapatis make her go through the form with her 
maternal grandfather or sister's husband, and in default of 
them with a tree. She is then immediately divorced and 
disposed of as a widow. Divorce and the remarriage of 
widows are permitted. A bachelor marrying a widow must 
first go through the ceremony with a flower. The Gandh- 
malis, as the priests of Mahadeo, are generally Saivas and 
wear red clothes covered with ochre. They consider that 
their ultimate ancestor is the Nag or cobra and especially 
observe the festival of Nag-Panchmi, abstaining from any 
cooked food on that day. They both burn and bury the 
dead and perform the shradhh ceremony or the offering of 
sacrificial cakes. They eat flesh but do not drink liquor. 
Their social position is fairly good and Brahmans will take 
water from their hands. Many of them hold free grants 
of land in return for their services at the temples. A few 
are ordinary cultivators. 

Garpagari. 1 — A caste of village menials whose function *• Origin 
it is to avert hailstorms from the crops. They are found ° c ^. 
principally in the Maratha Districts of the Nagpur country 
and Berar, and numbered 9000 persons in 191 1. The name 
is derived from the Marathi gar, hail. The Garpagaris are 
really Naths or Jogis who have taken to this calling and 
become a separate caste. They wear clothes coloured with 
red ochre, and a garland of rudrdksha beads, and bury their 
dead in a sitting posture. According to their tradition the 
first Garpagari was one Raut, a Jogi, who accompanied a 
Kunbi malguzar on a visit to Benares, and while there he 

1 Based on notes taken by Mr. HIra Lai at Chanda and the notices of the 
Garpagari in the District Gazetteers. 


20 GARPAGARI part 

prophesied that on a certain day all the crops of their village 
would be destroyed by a hailstorm. The Kunbi then be- 
sought him to save the crops if he could, and he answered 
that by his magic he could draw off the hail from the rest 
of the village and concentrate it in his own field, and he 
agreed to do this if the cultivators would recompense him 
for his loss. When the two came home to their village they 
found that there had been a severe hailstorm, but it had all 
fallen in the Jogi's field. His loss was made good to him 
and he adopted this calling as a profession, becoming the 
first Garpagari, and being paid by contributions from the 
proprietor and tenants. There are no subcastes except 
that the Kharchi Garpagari are a bastard group, with whom 
the others refuse to intermarry. 
Mar- Marriage is regulated by exogamous groups, two of 

which, Watari from the Otari or brass-worker, and Dhankar 
from the Dhangar or shepherds, are named after other castes. 
Some are derived from the names of animals, as Harnya 
from the black-buck, and Wagh from the tiger. The Diunde 
group take their name from diundi, the kotwar's 1 drum. 
They say that their ancestor was so named because he killed 
his brother, and was proclaimed as an outlaw by beat of 
drum. The marriage of members of the same group is for- 
bidden and also that of the children of two sisters, so long 
as the relationship between them is remembered. The caste 
usually celebrate their weddings after those of the Kunbis, 
on whom they depend for contributions to their expenses. 
Widow -marriage is permitted, but the widow sometimes 
refuses to marry again, and, becoming a Bhagat or devotee, 
performs long pilgrimages in male attire. Divorce is per- 
mitted, but as women are scarce, is rarely resorted to. The 
Garpagaris say, " If one would not throw away a vegetable 
worth a damri (one-eighth of a pice or farthing), how shall 
one throw away a wife who is 3 J- cubits long." A divorced 
wife is allowed to marry again. 

The caste worship Mahadeo or Siva and Mahablr or 
Hanuman, and do not usually distinguish them. Their 
principal festival is called Mahi and takes place on the first 
day of Poush (December), this being the day from which 

1 Village watchman. 



hailstorms may be expected to occur ; and next to this 
Mando Amawas, or the first day of Chait (March), after 
which hailstorms need not be feared. They offer goats to 
Mahadeo in his terrible form of Kal Bhairava, and during 
the ceremony the Kunbis beat the ddheka, a small drum 
with bells, to enhance the effect of the sacrifice, so that their 
crops may be saved. When a man is at the point of death 
he is placed in the sitting posture in which he is to be 
buried, for fear that after death his limbs may become so 
stiff that they cannot be made to assume it. The corpse is 
carried to the grave in a cloth coloured with red ochre. A 
gourd containing pulse and rice, a pice coin, and a small 
quantity of any drug to which the deceased may have been 
addicted in life are placed in the hands, and the grave is 
filled in with earth and salt. A lamp is lighted on the place 
where the death occurred, for one night, and on the third day 
a cocoanut is broken there, after which mourning ends and 
the house is cleaned. A stone brought from the bed of a 
river is plastered down on to the grave with clay, and this 
may perhaps represent the dead man's spirit. 

The occupation of the Garpagari is to avert hailstorms, 4. Occupa- 
and he was formerly remunerated by a customary contribu- 
tion of rice from each cultivator in the village. He received 
the usual presents at seed-time and harvest, and two pice 
from each tenant on the Basant-Panchmi festival. When 
the sky is of mixed red and black at night like smoke and 
flame, the Garpagari knows that a hailstorm is coming. 
Then, taking a sword in his hand, he goes and stands before 
Mahablr, and begs him to disperse the clouds. When en- 
treaties fail, he proceeds to threats, saying that he will kill 
himself, and throws off his clothes. Sometimes his wife and 
children go and stand with him before Mahablr' s shrine and 
he threatens to kill them. Formerly he would cut and 
slash himself, so it is said, if Mahablr was obdurate, but now 
the utmost he does is to draw some blood from a finger. 
He would also threaten to sacrifice his son, and instances 
are known of his actually having done so. 

Two ideas appear to be involved in these sacrifices of 
the Garpagari. One is the familiar principle of atonement, 
the blood being offered to appease the god as a substitute 

22 GARPAGAR1 part 

for the crops which he seems about to destroy. But when 
the Garpagari threatened to kill himself, and actually killed 
his son, it was not merely as an atonement, because in that 
case the threats would have had no meaning. His intention 
seems rather to have been to lay the guilt of homicide upon 
the god by slaying somebody in front of his shrine, in case 
nothing less would move him from his purpose of destroying 
the crops. The idea is the same as that with which people 
committed suicide in order that their ghosts might haunt 
those who had driven them to the act. As late as about 
the year 1905 a Gond Bhumka or village priest was hanged 
in Chhindwara for killing his two children. He owed a 
debt of Rs. 25 and the creditor was pressing him and he 
had nothing to pay. So he flew into a rage and exclaimed 
that the gods would do nothing for him even though he was 
a Bhumka, and he seized his two children and cut off their 
heads and laid them before the god. In this it would appear 
that the Bhumka's intention was partly to take revenge on 
his master for the neglect shown to him, the god's special 
servant. The Garpagari diverts the hail by throwing a 
handful of grain in the direction in which he wishes it to go. 
When the storm begins he will pick up some hailstones, 
smear them with his blood and throw them away, telling 
them to rain over rivers, hills, forests and barren ground. 
When caterpillars or locusts attack the crops he catches one 
or two and offers them at Mahablr's shrine, afterwards throw- 
ing them up in the air. Or he buries one alive and this is 
supposed to stay the plague. When rust appears in the crops, 
one or two blades are in like manner offered to Mahablr, and 
it is believed that the disease will be stayed. Or if the rice 
plants do not come into ear a few of them are plucked and 
offered, and fresh fertile blades then come up. He also has 
various incantations which are believed to divert the storm 
or to cause the hailstones to melt into water. In some 
localities, when the buffalo is slaughtered at the Dasahra 
festival, the Garpagari takes seven different kinds of spring- 
crop seeds and dips them in its blood. He buries them in 
a spot beside his hearth, and it is believed that when a hail- 
storm threatens the grains move about and give out a 
humming sound like water boiling. Thus the Garpagari has 


warning of the storm. If the Garpagari is absent and 
a storm comes his wife will go and stand naked before 
Mahablr's shrine. The wives know the incantations, but they 
must not learn them from their husbands, because in that 
case the husband would be in the position of a guru or 
spiritual preceptor to his wife and the conjugal relation could 
no longer continue. No other caste will learn the incanta- 
tions, for to make the hailstones melt is regarded as 
equivalent to causing an abortion, and as a sin for which 
heavy retribution would be incurred in a future life. 

In Chhattisgarh the Baiga or village priest of the abori- 
ginal tribes averts hailstorms in the same manner as the 
Garpagari, and elsewhere the Barais or betel-vine growers 
perform this function, which is especially important to them 
because their vines are so liable to be injured by hailstorms. 
In ancient Greece there existed a village functionary, the 
CJialazo phulax, who kept off hailstorms in exactly the same 
manner as the Garpagari. He would offer a victim, and if 
he had none would draw blood from his own fingers to 
appease the storm. 1 

The same power has even been imputed to Christian 
priests as recorded by Sir James Frazer : " In many villages 
of Provence the priest is still required to possess the faculty 
of averting storms. It is not every priest who enjoys this 
reputation ; and in some villages when a change of pastors 
takes place, the parishioners are eager to learn whether the 
new incumbent has the power (pouder) as they call it. At 
the first sign of a heavy storm they put him to the proof by 
inviting him to exorcise the threatening clouds ; and if the 
result answers to their hopes, the new shepherd is assured 
of the sympathy and respect of his flock. In some parishes 
where the reputation of the curate in this respect stood 
higher than that of the rector, the relations between the 
two have been so strained in consequence that the bishop 
has had to translate the rector to another benefice." 2 

Of late years an unavoidable scepticism as to the Garpa- 
gari's efficiency has led to a reduction of his earnings, and the 
cultivators now frequently decline to give him anything, or 

1 Dr. Jevons, Introduction to the 2 The Golden Bough, 2nd cd. vol. i. 

History of Religion, p. 171. p. 68, quoting from French authorities. 

24 GA URIA part 

only a sheaf of corn at harvest. Some members of the caste 
have taken to weaving newdr or broad tape for beds, and 
others have become cultivators. 

The Garpagaris eat flesh and drink liquor. They will 
take cooked food from a Kunbi, though the Kunbis will not 
take even water from them. They are a village menial 
caste and rank with others of the same position, though on 
a somewhat lower level because they beg and accept cooked 
food at the weddings of Kunbis. Their names usually end 
in natJi, as Ramnath, Kisannath and so on. 

Gauria. 1 — A small caste of snake-charmers and jugglers 
who are an offshoot of the Gond tribe. They number about 
500 persons and are found only in Chhattisgarh. They have 
the same exogamous septs as the Gonds, as Markam, Marai, 
Netam, Chhedaiha, Jagat, Purteti, Chichura and others. But 
they are no doubt of very mixed origin, as is shown by the 
fact that they do not eat together at their feasts, but the 
guests all cook their own food and eat it separately. And 
after a daughter has been married her own family even will 
not take food from her hand because they are doubtful of 
her husband's status. It is said that the Gaurias were 
accustomed formerly to beg only from the Kewat caste, 
though this restriction is no longer maintained. The fact 
may indicate that they are partly descended from the unions 
of Kewats with Gond women. 

Adult marriage is the general rule of the caste and a 
fixed bride-price of sixteen rupees is paid. The couple go 
away together at once and six months afterwards return to 
visit the bride's parents, when they are treated as outsiders 
and not allowed to touch the food cooked for the family, while 
they reciprocally insist on preparing their own. Male 
Gaurias will take food from any of the higher castes, but the 
women will eat only from Gaurias. They will admit out- 
siders belonging to any caste from whom they can take food 
into the community. And if a Gauria woman goes wrong 
with a member of any of these castes they overlook the 
matter and inflict only a feast as a penalty. 

1 This article is based on papers by of Schools, Bilaspur, and Bhagwan 
Mr. Jeorakhan Lai, Deputy Inspector Singh, Court of Wards Clerk, Bilaspur. 

ii GAURIA 25 

Their marriage ceremony consists merely in the placing" of 
bangles on the woman's wrists, which is the form by which 
a widow is married among other castes. If a widow marries 
a man other than her husband's younger brother, the new 
husband must pay twelve rupees to her first husband's family, 
or to her parents if she has returned to them. If she takes 
with her a child born of her first husband with permission to 
keep it, the second husband must pay eight rupees to the 
first husband's family as the price of the child. But if the 
child is to be returned as soon as it is able to shift for itself 
the second husband receives eight rupees instead of paying 
it, as remuneration for his trouble in rearing the baby. The 
caste bury their dead with the feet to the south, like the 
Hindus. The principal business of the Gaurias is to catch 
and exhibit snakes, and they carry a damru or rattle in the 
shape of an hour-glass, which is considered to be a distinctive 
badge of the caste. If a Gauria saw an Ojha snake-charmer 
carrying a damru he would consider himself entitled to take 
it from the Ojha forcibly if he could. A Gauria is forbidden 
to exhibit monkeys under penalty of being put out of 
caste. Their principal festival is the Nag-Panchmi, when the 
cobra is worshipped. They also profess to know charms for 
curing persons bitten by snakes. The following incantation 
is cried by a Gauria snake-doctor three times into the ears 
of his patient in a loud voice : 

" The bel tree and the bel leaves are on the other side 
of the river. All the Gaurias are drowned in it. The 
breast of the koil ; over it is a net. Eight snakes went to 
the forest. They tamed rats on the green tree. The snakes 
are flying, causing the parrots to fly. They want to play, but 
who can make them play? After finishing their play they 
stood up ; arise thou also, thou sword. I am waking you 
(the patient) up by crying in your ear, I conjure you by the 
name of Dhanvantari l to rise carefully." 

Similar meaningless charms are employed for curing the 
bites of scorpions and for exorcising bad spirits and the 
influence of the evil eye. 

The Gaurias will eat almost all kinds of flesh, including 
pigs, rats, fowls and jackals, but they abstain from beef. 
1 The Celestial Physician. 




Their social status is so low that practically no caste will 
take food or water from them, but they are not considered 
as impure. They are great drunkards, and are easily known 
by their damrus or rattles and the baskets in which they 
carry their snakes. 



i . Description of the caste. 5 . Religion and superstitions. 

2. Subcastes. 6. Occupation. 

3. Exogamous sections. 7. Social customs. 

4. Marriage. 8. Ghasias and Kdyasths. 

Ghasia, Sais. 1 — A low Dravidian caste of Orissa and 1. Descrip- 
Central India who cut grass, tend horses and act as village t j° e n c ° ste 
musicians at festivals. In the Central Provinces they 
numbered 43,000 in 191 1, residing principally in the 
Chhattlsgarh Division and the adjoining Feudatory States. 
The word Ghasia is derived from g/tds (grass) and means a 
grass-cutter. Sir H. Risley states that they are a fishing 
and cultivating caste of Chota Nagpur and Central India, who 
attend as musicians at weddings and festivals and also perform 
menial offices of all kinds. 2 In Bastar they are described as 
an inferior caste who serve as horse-keepers and also make 
and mend brass vessels. They dress like the Maria Gonds 
and subsist partly by cultivation and partly by labour. 3 
Dr. Ball describes them in Singhbhum as gold-washers and 
musicians. Colonel Dalton speaks of them as " An extra- 
ordinary tribe, foul parasites of the Central Indian hill 
tribes and submitting to be degraded even by them. If 
the Chandals of the Puranas, though descended from the 
union of a Brahmini and a Sudra, are the lowest of the low, 
the Ghasias are Chandals and the people further south 
who are called Pariahs are no doubt of the same distin- 
guished lineage." 4 

1 This article is compiled partly from 3 Central Provinces Gazetteer ( 1 87 1 ), 
papers by Munshis Pyare Lai Misra and p. 273. 

Kanhya Lai of the Gazetteer Office. 4 Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, 

2 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. p. 325. 


2 S GHASIA part 

a. sub- The Ghasias generally, however, appear now to be a 

harmless caste of labourers without any specially degrading 
or repulsive traits. In Mandla their social position and 
customs are much on a par with those of the Gonds, from 
whom a considerable section of the caste seems to be 
derived. In other localities they have probably immigrated 
into the Central Provinces from Bundelkhand and Orissa. 
Among their subdivisions the following may be mentioned : 
the Udia, who cure raw hides and do the work of sweepers and 
are generally looked down on; the Dingkuchia, who castrate 
cattle and ponies ; the Dolboha, who carry dhoolies or 
palanquins ; the Nagarchi, who derive their name from 
the nakkara or kettle-drum and are village musicians ; the 
Khaltaha or those from Raipur ; the Laria, belonging to 
Chhattlsgarh, and the Uria of the Uriya country ; the 
Ramgarhia, who take their name from Ramgarh in the Mandla 
District, and the Mahobia from Mahoba in Bundelkhand. 
Those members of the caste who work as grooms have 
become a separate group and call themselves Sais, dropping 
the name of Ghasia. They rank higher than the others 
and marry among themselves, and some of them have 
become cultivators or work as village watchmen. They 
are also called Thanwar by the Gonds, the word meaning 
stable or stall. In Chota Nagpur a number of Ghasias have 
become tailors and are tending to form a separate subcaste 
under the name of Darzi. 
3 . Exo- Their septs are of the usual low-caste type, being named 

fectionl after animals > inanimate objects or nicknames of ancestors. 
One of them is Panch-biha or ' He who had five wives,' 
and another Kul-dlp or ' The sept of the lamp.' Members 
of this sept will stop eating if a lamp goes out. The Janta 
Ragda take their name from the mill for grinding corn and 
will not have a grinding-mill in their houses. They say 
that a female ancestor was delivered of a child when sitting 
near a grinding-mill and this gave the sept its name. Three 
septs are named after other castes : Kumharbans, descended 
from a potter ; Gandbans, from a Ganda ; and Luha, from a 
Lohar or blacksmith, and which names indicate that members 
of these castes have been admitted into the community. 

Marriage is forbidden within the sept, but is permitted 


between the children of brothers and sisters. Those 4. Mar- 
members of the caste who have become Kablrpanthis may nage ' 
also marry with the others. Marriages may be infant or 
adult. A girl who is seduced by a member of the caste 
is married to him by a simple ceremony, the couple stand- 
ing before a twig of the umar 1 tree, while some women 
sprinkle turmeric over them. If a girl goes wrong with an 
outsider she is permanently expelled and a feast is exacted 
from her parents. The boy and his relatives go to the girl's 
house for the betrothal, and a present of various articles of 
food and dress is made to her family, apparently as a sort 
of repayment for their expenditure in feeding and clothing 
her. A gift of clothes is also made to her mother, called 
dudh-sari, and is regarded as the price of the milk with 
which the mother nourished the girl in her infancy. A 
goat, which forms part of the bride-price, is killed and eaten 
by the parties and their relatives. The binding portion of 
the marriage is the bhdnwar ceremony, at which the couple 
walk seven times round the marriage -post, holding each 
other by the little fingers. When they return to the bride- 
groom's house, a cock or a goat is killed and the head 
buried before the door ; the foreheads of the couple are 
marked with its blood and they go inside the house. If 
the bride is not adult, she goes home after a stay of two 
days, and the gauna or going-away ceremony is performed 
when she finally leaves her parents' house. The remarriage 
of widows is permitted, no restriction being imposed on the 
widow in her choice of a second husband. Divorce is per- 
mitted for infidelity on the part of the wife. 

Children are named on the sixth day after birth, special 5. Reii- 
names being given to avert ill-luck, while they sometimes ^p^stl 
go through the ceremony of selling a baby for five cowries tions. 
in order to disarm the jealousy of the godlings who are 
hostile to children. They will not call any person by name 
when they think an owl is within hearing, as they believe 
that the owl will go on repeating the name and that this 
will cause the death of the person bearing it. The caste 
generally revere Dulha Deo, the bridegroom god, whose 
altar stands near the cooking place, and the goddess Devi. 

1 Flats glomerata. 

3 o GHASIA part 

Once in three years they offer a white goat to Bura Deo, 
the great god of the Gonds. They worship the sickle, the 
implement of their trade, at Dasahra, and offer cocoanuts 
and liquor to Ghasi Sadhak, a godling who lives by the peg 
to which horses are tied in the stable. He is supposed to 
protect the horse from all kinds of diseases. At Dasahra 
they also worship the horse. Their principal festival is 
called Karma and falls on the eleventh day of the second 
half of Bhadon (August). On this day they bring a branch 
of a tree from the forest and worship it with betel, areca- 
nut and other offerings. All through the day and night the 
men and women drink and dance together. They both 
burn and bury the dead, throwing the ashes into water. 
For the first three days after a death they set out rice and 
pulse and water in a leaf cup for the departed spirit. They 
believe that the ghosts of the dead haunt the living, and to 
cure a person possessed in this manner they beat him with 
shoes and then bury 'an effigy of the ghost outside the 

6. Occupa- The Ghasias usually work as grass-cutters and grooms 
to horses, and some of them make loom-combs for weavers. 
These last are looked down upon and called Madarchawa. 
They make the kuncJi or brushes for the loom, like the 
Kuchbandhias, from the root of the babai or khas-khas grass, 
and the rachh or comb for arranging the threads on the 
loom from the stalks of the bharru grass. Other Ghasias 
make ordinary hair combs from the kathai, a grass which 
grows densely on the borders of streams and springs. The 
frame of the comb is of bamboo and the teeth are fixed in 
either by thread or wire, the price being one pice (farthing) 
in the former case and two in the latter. 

7. Social The caste admit outsiders by a disgusting ceremony 
in which the candidate is shaved with urine and forced to 
eat a mixture of cowdung, basil leaves, dub 1 grass and 
water in which a piece of silver or gold has been dipped. 
The women do not wear the choli or breast-cloth nor the 
nose-ring, and in some localities they do not have spangles 
on the forehead. Women are tattooed on various parts of 
the body before marriage with the idea of enhancing their 

1 Cynodon dactylon. 




beauty, and sometimes tattooing is resorted to for curing 
a pain in some joint or for rheumatism. A man who is 
temporarily put out of caste is shaved on readmission, and 
in the case of a woman a lock of her hair is cut. To touch 
a dead cow is one of the offences entailing temporary 
excommunication. They employ a Brahman only to fix 
the dates of their marriages. The position of the caste is 
very low and in some places they are considered as impure. 
The Ghasias are very poor, and a saying about them is 
' GJiasia ki jindagi hasia,' or ' The Ghasia is supported by his 
sickle,' the implement used for cutting grass. The Ghasias 
are perhaps the only caste in the Central Provinces outside 
those commonly returning themselves as Mehtar, who con- 
sent to do scavenger's work in some localities. 

The caste have a peculiar aversion to Kayasths and 8. Ghasias 
will not take food or water from them nor touch a Kayasth's kayasths 
bedding or clothing. They say that they would not serve 
a Kayasth as horse-keeper, but if by any chance one of 
them was reduced to doing so, he at any rate would not 
hold his master's stirrup for him to mount. To account for 
this hereditary enmity they tell the following story : 

On one occasion the son of the Kayasth minister of the 
Raja of Ratanpur went out for a ride followed by a Ghasia 
sais (groom). The boy was wearing costly ornaments, and 
the Ghasia's cupidity being excited, he attacked and murdered 
the child, stripped him of his ornaments and threw the body 
down a well. The murder was discovered and in revenge 
the minister killed every Ghasia, man, woman or child that 
he could lay his hands on. The only ones who escaped 
were two pregnant women who took refuge in the hut of a 
Ganda and were sheltered by him. To them were born a 
boy and a girl and the present Ghasias are descended from 
the pair. Therefore a Ghasia will eat even the leavings of a 
Ganda but will accept nothing from the hands of a Kayasth. 

This story is an instance of the process which has been 
called the transplantation of myth. Sir H. Risley tells a 
similar legend of the Ghasias of Orissa, 1 but in their case 
it was a young Kayasth bridegroom who was killed, and 
before dying he got leave from his murderers to write a 

1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Ghasi. 

GHOSI part 


letter to his relatives informing them of his death, on con- 
dition that he said nothing as to its manner. But in the 
letter he disclosed the murder, and the Ghasias, who could 
not read, were duly brought to justice. In the Ratanpur 
story as reported from Bilaspur it was stated that " Some- 
how, even from down the well, the minister's son managed 
to get a letter sent to his father telling him of the murder." 
And this sentence seems sufficient to establish the fact that 
the Central Provinces story has merely been imported from 
Orissa and slightly altered to give it local colour. The real 
reason for the traditional aversion felt by the Ghasias and 
other low castes for the Kayasths will be discussed in the 
article on that caste. 

Ghosi. 1 — A caste of herdsmen belonging to northern 
India and found in the Central Provinces in Saugor and 
other Districts of the Jubbulpore and Nerbudda Divisions. 
In 191 1 they numbered 10,000 persons in this Province 
out of a strength of about 60,000 in India. The name 
is said to be derived from the Sanskrit root ghush, to 
shout, the word ghosha meaning one who shouts as he 
herds his cattle. A noticeable fact about the caste is that, 
while in Upper India they are all Muhammadans — and it 
is considered to be partly on account of the difference in 
religion that they have become differentiated into a 
separate caste from the Ahlrs — in the Central Provinces 
they are nearly all Hindus and show no trace of Muhamma- 
dan practices. A few Muhammadan Ghosis are found 
in Nimar and some Muhammadans who call themselves 
Gaddi in Mandla are believed to be Ghosis. And as the 
Ghosis of the northern Districts of the Central Provinces must 
in common with the bulk of the population be descended 
from immigrants from northern India, it would appear that 
they must have changed their religion, or rather abandoned 
one to which their ancestors had only been imperfectly 
proselytised, when it was no longer the dominant faith of the 
locality in which they lived. Sir D. Ibbetson says that in the 
Punjab the name Ghosi is used only for Muhammadans, and 

1 This article is based partly on a paper by Khan Bahadur Imdad Ali, 
Pleader, Damoh. 

ii GHOSI 33 

is often applied to any cowherd or milkman of that religion, 
whether Gujar, Ahir or of any other caste, just as Goala is used 
for a Hindu cowherd. It is said that Hindus will buy pure 
milk from the Musalman Ghosi, but will reject it if there is 
any suspicion of its having been watered by the latter, as 
they must not drink water at his hands. 1 But in Berar 
Brahmans will now buy milk and curds from Muhammadan 
milkmen. Mr. Crooke remarks that most of the Ghosis are 
Ahirs who have been converted to Islam. To the east of the 
United Provinces they claim a Gujar origin, and here they 
will not eat beef themselves nor take food with any Muham- 
madans who consume it. They employ Brahmans to fix 
the auspicious times for marriage and other ceremonies. 
The Ghosis of Lucknow have no other employment but the 
keeping of milch cattle, chiefly buffaloes of all kinds, and they 
breed buffaloes. 2 This is the case also in Saugor, where 
the Ghosis are said to rank below ordinary Ahirs because 
they breed and tend buffaloes instead of cows. Those of 
Narsinghpur, however, are generally not herdsmen at all but 
ordinary cultivators. In northern India, owing to the large 
number of Muhammadans who, other things being equal, 
would prefer to buy their milk and ghi from co-religionists, 
there would be an opening for milkmen professing this faith, 
and on the facts stated above it may perhaps be surmised 
that the Ghosi caste came into existence to fill the position. 
Or they may have been forcibly converted as a number of 
Ahirs in Berar were forcibly converted to Islam, and still 
call themselves Muhammadans, though they can scarcely 
repeat the Kalma and only go to mosque once a year. 3 
But when some of the Ghosis migrated into the Central 
Provinces, they would find, in the absence of a Musalman 
clientele, that their religion, instead of being an advantage, 
was a positive drawback to them, as Hindus would be 
reluctant to buy milk from a Muhammadan who might 
be suspected of having mixed it with water ; and it would 
appear that they have relapsed naturally into Hinduism, all 
traces of their profession of Islam being lost. Even so, how- 

1 Punjab Ce>isus Report (1881), Ghosi. 
para. 272. 

2 Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art. 3 From a note by Mr, Hira Lai. 

VOL. Ill D 

34 GHOSI part 

ever, in Narsinghpur they have had to abandon their old calling 
and become ordinary cultivators, while in Saugor, perhaps 
on account of their doubtful status, they are restricted 
to keeping buffaloes. If this suggestion turned out to be 
well founded, it would be an interesting instance of a 
religion being changed to secure a professional advantage. 
But it can only be considered as a guess. A parallel to the 
disadvantage of being unable to water their milk without 
rendering it impure, which attaches to the Ghosis of the 
Punjab, may be adduced in the case of the Telis of the small 
town of Multai in Betul District. Here the dairyman's 
business is for some reason in the hands of Telis (oilmen) and 
it is stated that from every Teli who engages in it a solemn 
oath is exacted that he will not put water in the milk, and 
any violation of this would be punished by expulsion from 
caste. Because if the Hindus once found that they had been 
rendered impure by drinking water touched by so low a 
caste as the Telis, they would decline any longer to purchase 
milk from them. It is curious that the strict rule of 
ceremonial purity which obtains in the case of water has 
apparently no application to milk. 

In the Central Provinces the Ghosis have two subcastes, 
the Havelia or those living in open wheat country, and the 
Birchheya or residents of jungle tracts. In Saugor they have 
another set of divisions borrowed from the Ahirs, and here 
the Muhammadan Ghosis are said to be a separate subcaste, 
though practically none were returned at the census. They 
have the usual system of exogamous groups with territorial 
names derived from those of villages. At their marriages 
the couple walk six times round the sacred post, reserving 
the seventh round, if the bride is a child, to be performed 
subsequently when she goes to her husband. But if she is 
adult, the full number may be completed, the ceremony known 
as lot pata coming between the sixth and seventh rounds. 
In this the bride sits first on the right of her husband and 
then changes seats so as to be on his left ; and she is thus 
considered to become joined to her husband as the left part 
of his body, which the Hindus consider the wife to be, 
holding the same belief as that expressed in Genesis. After 
this the bride takes some child of the household into her lap 

ii GOLAR 35 

and then makes it over to the bridegroom saying, ' Take care 
of the baby while I go and do the household work.' This 
ceremony, which has been recorded also of the Kapus in 
Chanda, is obviously designed as an auspicious omen that the 
marriage may be blessed with children. Like other castes of 
their standing, the Ghosis permit polygamy, divorce and the 
remarriage of widows, but the practice of taking two wives is 
rare. The dead are burnt, with the exception that the bodies 
of young children whose ears have not been pierced and of 
persons dying of smallpox are buried. Children usually have 
their ears pierced when they are three or four years old. A 
corpse must not be taken to the pyre at night, as it is thought 
that in that case it would be born blind in the next birth. 
The caste have bards and genealogists of their own who are 
known as Patia. In Damoh the Ghosis are mainly cart- 
drivers and cultivators and very few of them sell milk. In 
Nimar there are some Muhammadan Ghosis who deal in 
milk. Their women are not secluded and may be known by 
the number of little rings worn in the ear after the Muham- 
madan custom. Like the Ahirs, the Ghosis are considered 
to be somewhat stupid. They call themselves Ghosi Thakur, 
as they claim to be Rajputs, and outsiders also sometimes 
address them as Thakur. But in Saugor and Damoh these 
aspirations to Kshatriya rank are so widespread that when 
one person asks another his caste the usual form of the 
question is ' What Thakur are you ? ' The questioner thus 
politely assumes that his companion must be a Rajput of 
some sort and leaves it to him to admit or deny the soft 
impeachment. Another form of this question is to say 
' What dudh, or milk, are you ? ' 

Golar, 1 Gollam, Golla, Gola, Golkar. — The great 
shepherd caste of the Telugu country, which numbers nearly 
i-^r million of persons in Madras and Hyderabad. In the 
Central Provinces there were under 3000 Golars in 1901, 
and they were returned principally from the Balaghat and 
Seoni Districts. But 2500 Golkars, who belonged to Chanda 
and were classified under Ahirs in 1901, may, in view of the 

1 This article is compiled from Office, and Madho Rao, Deputy In- 
papers by Kanhya Lai of the Gazetteer spector of Schools, Balaghat. 



information now available, be considered to belong to the 
Golar caste. Some 2000 Golars were enumerated in Berar. 
They are a nomadic people and frequent Balaghat, owing to 
the large area of grazing land found in the District. The 
caste come from the south and speak a dialect of Canarese. 
Hindus liken the conversation of two Golars to two cocks 
crowing at each other. 1 They seem to have no subcastes 
except that in Chanda the Yera and Nana, or black and 
white Golkars, are distinguished. Marriage is regulated by 
the ordinary system of exogamous groups, but no meaning 
can be assigned to the names of these. In Seoni they say 
that their group-names are the same as those of the Gonds, 
and that they are related to this great tribe ; but though 
both are no doubt of the same Dravidian stock, there is no 
reason for supposing any closer affinity to exist, and the 
statement may be explained by the fact that Golars frequently 
reside in Gond villages in the forest; and in accordance with 
a practice commonly found among village communities the 
fiction of relationship has grown up. The children of 
brothers and sisters are allowed to marry, but not those of 
two sisters, the reason stated for this prohibition being that 
during the absence of the mother her sister nurses her 
children ; the children of sisters are therefore often foster 
brothers and sisters, and this is considered as equivalent to 
the real relationship. But the marriage of a brother's son 
to a sister's daughter is held, as among the Gonds, to be a 
most suitable union. The adult marriage of girls involves 
no stigma, and the practice of serving for a wife is sometimes 
followed. Weddings may not be held during the months of 
Shrawan, Bhadon, Kunwar and Pus. The marriage altar is 
made of dried cowdung plastered over with mud, in honour 
perhaps of the animal which affords the Golars their liveli- 
hood. The clothes of the bridegroom and bride are knotted 
together and they walk five times round the altar. In 
Bhandara the marriages of Golars are celebrated both at 
the bride's house and the bridegroom's. The bridegroom 
rides on a horse, and on arrival at the marriage-shed is 
presented by his future mother-in-law with a cup of milk. 
The bride and bridegroom sit on a platform together, and 
1 Balaghat District Gazetteer (C. E. Low), p. 80. 

ii GOLAR 37 

each gets up and sits down nine times, whoever accomplishes 
this first being considered to have won. The bridegroom 
then takes the bride's little finger in his hand and they walk 
nine times round the platform. He afterwards falls at the 
girl's feet, and standing up carries her inside the house, 
where they eat together out of one dish. After three days 
the party proceeds to the bridegroom's house, where the 
same ceremonies are gone through. Here the family barbers 
of the bride and bridegroom take the couple up in their arms 
and dance, holding them, and all the party dance too. The 
remarriage of widows is permitted, a sum of Rs. 25 being 
usually paid to the parents of the woman by her second 
husband. Divorce may be effected at the option of either 
party, and documents are usually drawn up on both sides. 
The Golars worship Mahadeo and have a special deity, 
Hularia, who protects their cattle from disease and wild 
beasts. A clay image of Hularia is erected outside the 
village every five or ten years and goats are offered to it. 
Each head of a family is supposed to offer on the first 
occasion two goats, and on the second and subsequent ones, 
five, seven, nine and twelve goats respectively. But when a 
man dies his son starts afresh with an offering of two. The 
flesh of the animals offered is consumed by the caste-fellows. 
The name Hularia Deo has some connection with the Holias, 
a low Telugu caste of leather-workers to whom the Golars 
appear to be related, as they have the same family names. 
When a Golar dies a plate of cooked rice is laid on his body 
and then carried to the burning-^v^. The Holias belonging 
to the same section go with it, and before arrival the plate 
of rice is laid on the ground and the Holias eat it. The 
Golars have various superstitions, and on Saturdays, Sundays 
and Mondays they will not give salt, fire, milk or water to 
any one. They usually burn the dead, the corpse being 
laid with the head to the south, though in some localities 
the Hindu custom of placing the head to the north has 
been adopted. They employ Brahmans for religious and 
ceremonial purposes. The occupation of the caste is to 
breed and tend buffaloes and cattle, and they also deal in 
live-stock, and sell milk, curds and ghl. They were formerly 
addicted to dacoity and cattle-theft. They have a caste 

38 GOLAR part ii 

panckayat, the head of which is designated as Mokasi. 
Formerly the Mokasi received Rs. I 5 on the marriage of a 
widow, and Rs. 5 when a person temporarily outcasted was 
readmitted to social intercourse, but these payments are now 
only occasionally made. The caste drink liquor and eat 
flesh, including pigs and fowls, but not beef. They employ 
Brahmans for ceremonial purposes, but their social status is 
low and they are practically on a level with the Dravidian 
tribes. The dialect of Canarese spoken by the Golars is 
known as Golari, Holia or Komtau, and is closely related to 
the form which that language assumes in Bijapur ; 1 but to 
outsiders they now speak Hindi. 

1 Linguistic Survey of India, vol. iv. Dravidian Language, p. 386. 


[Bibliography. — The most important account of the Gond tribe is that con- 
tained in the Rev. Stephen Hislop's Papers on the Aboriginal Tribes of the 
Central Provinces, published after his death by Sir R. Temple in 1866. Mr. 
Hislop recorded the' legend of Lingo, of which an abstract has been reproduced. 
Other notices of the Gonds are contained in the ninth volume of General 
Cunningham's Archaeological Survey Reports, Sir C. Grant's Central Provinces 
Gazetteer of 1S71 (Introduction), Colonel Ward's Manilla Settlement Report 
(186S), Colonel Lucie Smith's Chanda Settlement Report (1870), and Mr. C. 
W. Montgomerie's Chhindwara Settlement Report (1900). An excellent mono- 
graph on the Bastar Gonds was contributed by Rai Bahadur Panda Baijnath 
Superintendent of the State, and other monographs by Mr. A. E. Nelson, C.S. 
Mandla ; Mr. Ganga Prasad Khatri, Forest Divisional Officer, Betul ; Mr. J 
Langhorne, Manager, Ahiri zamindari, Chanda ; Mr. R. S. Thiikur, tahslldar 
Balaghat ; and Mr. Din Daya.1, Deputy Inspector of Schools, Nandgaon State 
Papers were also furnished by the Rev. A. Wood of Chanda ; the Rev. H. J 
Molony, Mandla; and Major W. D. Sutherland, I. M.S., Saugor. Notes were 
also collected by the writer in Mandla. Owing to the inclusion of many small 
details from the different papers it has not been possible to acknowledge them 

Numbers and distribution. 


Derivation of name and origin 

of the Gonds. 
History of the Gonds. 
Mythical traditions. Story of 

Legend of the creation. 

(a) Origin and History 


Creation of the Gonds and their 
imprisonment by Mahddeo. 

8. The birth a?id history of Lingo. 

9. Death and resurrection of 

: o. He releases the Gonds shut tip 
in the cave and constitutes 
the tribe. 

1 1. 


(b) Tribal Subdivisions 

14. Connection of totemism with 
the e~ods. 

(c) Marriage Customs 

15- Prohibitions on intermarriage, 17. Marriage. Arrangement of 

and unions of relations. matches. 

16. Irregular marriages. 18. The marriage ceremony. 


4 o 



(c) Marriage Customs — continued 



.2 !. 


23. Serving for a wife. 

24. Widow remarriage. 

25. Divorce. 

26. Polygamy. 

Wedding expenditure. 

Special customs. 
Taking omens. 

Marriage by capture. Weep- 
ing and hiding. 

(d) Birth and Pregnancy 
Menstruation. 29. Procedure at a birth. 

28. Superstitions about pregnancy 30. Names. 

and childbirth. 31. Superstitions about children. 

(e) Funeral Rites 

3 2 - 







Disposal of the dead. 36. 

Funeral ceremony. 37. 

Mourning and offerings to the 38. 


Memorial stones to the dead. 39. 

House abandoned after a death. 

Bringing back the soul. 

The dead absorbed in Bura 

Belief in a future life. 

(/) Religion 

Nature of the Gond religion. 

The gods. 
Tribal gods, and their place of 

Household gods. 
Nag Deo. 
Narayan Deo. 
Bura I 'i'i>. 
Charms and magic. 

(g) Appearance and Character 

57. Physical type. 

58. Character. 

59. Shyness and ignorance. 

60. Villages and houses. 

6 1 . Clothes and ornaments. 

62. Far-piercing. 

63. Hair. 

64. Bathing and washi?7g clothes. 

65. Tattooing. 

66. Special system of tattooing. 

67. Branding. 

68. Food. 

69. Liquor. 

48. Agricultural superstitions. 

49. Magical or religious observ- 

ances in fishing and hunting. 

5 o. Witchcraft. 

5 1 . Human sacrifice. 

52. Cannibalism. 

53. Festivals. The new crops. 

54. The Holi Festival. 

5 5. The Mcghnath swinging rite. 

56. The Karma and other rites. 

and Social Rules and Customs 

70. Admission of outsiders and 
sexual morality. 

7 1 . Common sleeping-houses. 

72. Methods of greeting and ob- 
servances betiveen relatives. 

7 3 . The caste panchdyat and social 

7 4 . Caste penalty feasts. 

75. Special purification ceremony. 

76. Dancing. 

77. Songs. 

78. Language. 

79. Cultivation. 

80. Patch cultivation. 

(h) Occupation 

8 1 . Hunting: 

Traps for animals. 


{ii) Origin and History 

Gond. — The principal tribe of the Dravidian family, and 1. Num- 
perhaps the most important of the non-Aryan or forest tribes distn'bu- 
in India. In 191 1 the Gonds were three million strong, ti?°- 
and they are increasing rapidly. The Kolis of western 
India count half a million persons more than the Gonds, 
and if the four related tribes Kol, Munda, Ho, and Santal 
were taken together, they would be stronger by about the 
same amount. But if historical importance be considered 
as well as numbers, the first place should be awarded to the 
Gonds. Of the whole caste the Central Provinces contain. 
2,300,000 persons, Central India, and Bihar and Orissa 
about 235,000 persons each, and they are returned in small 
numbers from Assam, Madras and Hyderabad. The 50,000 
Gonds in Assam are no doubt immigrant labourers on the 

In the Central Provinces the Gonds occupy two main 2. Gond- 
tracts. The first is the wide belt of broken hill and forest wana ' 
country in the centre of the Province, which forms the 
Satpura plateau, and is mainly comprised in the Chhindwara, 
Betul, Seoni and Mandla Districts, with portions of several 
others adjoining them. And the second is the still wider 
and more inaccessible mass of hill ranges extending south 
of the Chhattisgarh plain, and south - west down to the 
Godavari, which includes portions of the three Chhattisgarh 
Districts, the Bastar and Ranker States, and a great part of 
Chanda. In Mandla the Gonds form nearly half the popu- 
lation, and in Bastar about two-thirds. There is, however, 
no District or State of the Province which does not contain 
some Gonds, and it is both on account of their numbers and 
the fact that Gond dynasties possessed a great part of its 
area that the territory of the Central Provinces was formerly 
known as Gondwana, or the country of the Gonds. 1 The 
existing importance of the Central Provinces dates from 
recent years, for so late as 1853 it was stated before the 
Royal Asiatic Society that " at present the Gondwana high- 

1 The country of Gondwana pro- Nerbudda valley to the south and 
perly included the Satpura plateau and west. 
a section of the Nagpur plain and 

42 GOND part 

lands and jungles comprise such a large tract of unexplored 

country that they form quite an oasis in our maps." So 

much of this lately unexplored country as is British territory 

is now fairly well served by railways, traversed almost 

throughout by good roads, and provided with village schools 

at distances of five to ten miles apart, even in the wilder 


3. Deriva- The derivation of the word Gond is uncertain. It is the 

110,1 of , name eiven to the tribe by the Hindus or Muhammadans, 
name and "»■«"- fc> ,, ^' / 

origin of as their own name for themselves is Koitur or Koi. General 
* Cunningham considered that the name Gond probably came 
from Gauda, the classical term for part of the United 
Provinces and Bengal. A Benares inscription relating to 
one of the Chedi kings of Tripura or Tewar (near Jubbul- 
pore) states that he was of the Haihaya tribe, who lived on 
the borders of the Nerbudda in the district of the Western 
Gauda in the Province of Malwa. Three or four other 
inscriptions also refer to the kings of Gauda in the same 
locality. Gauda, however, was properly and commonly 
used as trie name of part of Bengal. There is no evidence 
beyond a few doubtful inscriptions of its having ever been 
applied to any part of the Central Provinces. The principal 
passage in which General Cunningham identifies Gauda with 
the Central Provinces is that in which the king of Gauda 
came to the assistance of the ruler of Malwa against the 
king of Kanauj, elder brother of the great Harsha Vardhana, 
and slew the latter king in A.D. 605. But Mr. V. A. Smith 
holds that Gauda in this passage refers to Bengal and not 
to the Central Provinces ; * and General Cunningham's 
argument on the locality of Gauda is thus rendered extremely 
dubious, and with it his derivation of the name Gond. In 
fact it seems highly improbable that the name of a large 
tribe should have been taken from a term so little used and 
known in this special application. Though in the Imperial 
Gazetteer 2 the present writer reproduced General Cunning- 
ham's derivation of the term Gond, it was there characterised 
as speculative, and in the light of the above remarks now 
seems highly improbable. Mr. Hislop considered that the 
name Gond was a form of Kond, as he spelt the name of 

1 Early History of India, 3rd ed. p. 337. 2 Art Gondvvana. 


the Khond tribe. He pointed out that k and g are inter- 
changeable. Thus Gotalghar, the empty house where the 
village young men sleep, comes from Kotal, a led horse, and 
ghar, a house. Similarly, Koikopal, the name of a Gond 
subtribe who tend cattle, is from Koi or Gond, and gopal, 
a cowherd. The name by which the Gonds call themselves is 
Koi or Koitur, while the Khonds call themselves Ku, which 
word Sir G. Grierson considers to be probably related to the 
Gond name Koi. Further, he states that the Telugu people 
call the Khonds, Gond or Kod (Kor). General Cunningham 
points out that the word Gond in the Central Provinces is 
frequently or, he says, usually pronounced Gaur, which is 
practically the same sound as god, and with the change 
of G to K would become Kod. Thus the two names Gond 
and Kod, by which the Telugu people know the Khonds, 
are practically the same as the names Gond and God of the 
Gonds in the Central Provinces, though Sir G. Grierson does 
not mention the change of g to k in his account of either 
language. It seems highly probable that the designation 
Gond was given to the tribe by the Telugus. The Gonds 
speak a Dravidian language of the same family as Tamil, 
Canarese and Telugu, and therefore it is likely that they 
come from the south into the Central Provinces. Their 
route may have been up the Godavari river into Chanda ; 
from thence up the Indravati into Bastar and the hills south 
and east of the Chhattlsgarh plain ; and up the Wardha and 
Wainganga to the Districts of the Satpura Plateau. In 
Chanda, where a Gond dynasty reigned for some centuries, 
they would be in contact with the Telugus, and here they 
may have got their name of Gond, and carried it with them 
into the north and east of the Province. As already seen, 
the Khonds are called Gond by the Telugus, and Kandh by 
the Uriyas. The Khonds apparently came up more towards 
the east into Ganjam and Kalahandi. Here the name of 
Gond or Kod, given them by the Telugus, may have been 
modified into Kandh by the Uriyas, and from the two 
names came the English corruption of Khond. The Khond 
and Gondi languages are now dissimilar. Still they present 
certain points of resemblance, and though Sir G. Grierson 
does not discuss their connection, it appears from his highly 


GOND part 

interesting genealogical tree of the Dravidian languages 
that Khond or Kui and Gondi are closely connected. 
These two languages, and no others, occupy an intermediate 
position between the two great branches sprung from the 
original Dravidian language, one of which is mainly repre- 
sented by Telugu and the other by Tamil, Canarese and 
Malayalam. 1 Gondi and Khond are shown in the centre 
as the connecting link between the two great branches. 
Gondi is more nearly related to Tamil and Khond to 
Telugu. On the Telugu side, moreover, Khond approaches 
most closely to Kolami, which is a member of the Telugu 
branch. The Kolams are a tribe of Wardha and Berar, 
sometimes considered an offshoot of the Gonds ; at any 
rate, it seems probable that they came from southern India 
by the same route as the Gonds. Thus the Khond lan- 
guage is intermediate between Gondi and the Kolami dialect 
of Wardha and Berar, though the Kolams live west of the 
Gonds and the Khonds east. And a fairly close relation- 
ship between the three languages appears to be established. 
Hence the linguistic evidence appears to afford strong sup- 
port to the view that the Khonds and Gonds may originally 
have been one tribe. Further, Mr. Hislop points out that a 
word for god, pen, is common to the Gonds and Khonds ; 
and the Khonds have a god called Bura Pen, who might 
be the same as Bura Deo, the great god of the Gonds. 
Mr. Hislop found Kodo Pen and Pharsi Pen as Gond gods, 2 
while Pen or Pennu is the regular word for god among the 
Khonds. This evidence seems to establish a probability 
that the Gonds and Khonds were originally one tribe in the 
south of India, and that they obtained separate names and 
languages since they left their original home for the north. 
The fact that both of them speak languages of the Dravidian 
family, whose home is in southern India, makes it probable 
that the two tribes originally belonged there, and migrated 
north into the Central Provinces and Orissa. This hypothesis 
is supported by the traditions of the Gonds. 
4 . History As stated in the article on Kol, it is known that Rajput 

Gollds. d y na sties were ruling in various parts of the Central Provinces 

1 Linguistic Survey, Munda and Dravidian Languages, iv. p. 285. 
2 Notes, p. 15. 


from about the sixth to the twelfth centuries. They then 
disappear, and there is a blank till the fourteenth century or 
later, when Gond kingdoms are found established at Kherla 
in Betul, at Deogarh in Chhlndwara, at Garha-Mandla, 1 in- 
cluding the Jubbulpore country, and at Chanda, fourteen 
miles from Bhandak. It seems clear, then, that the Hindu 
dynasties were subverted by the Gonds after the Muham- 
madan invasions of northern India had weakened or de- 
stroyed the central powers of the Hindus, and prevented 
any assistance being afforded to the outlying settlements. 
There is some reason to suppose that the immigration of 
the Gonds into the Central Provinces took place after the 
establishment of these Hindu kingdoms, and not before, 
as is commonly held. 2 But the point must at present be con- 
sidered doubtful. There is no reason however to doubt that 
the Gonds came from the south through Chanda and Bastar. 
During the fourteenth century and afterwards the Gonds 
established dynasties at the places already mentioned in the 
Central Provinces. For two or three centuries the greater 
part of the Province was governed by Gond kings. Of 
their method of government in Narsinghpur, Sleeman said : 
" Under these Gond Rajas the country seems for the most 
part to have been distributed among feudatory chiefs, bound 
to attend upon the prince at his capital with a stipulated 
number of troops, to be employed wherever their services 
might be required, but to furnish little or no revenue in 
money. These chiefs were Gonds, and the countries they 
held for the support of their families and the payment of 
their troops and retinue little more than wild jungles. The 
Gonds seem not to have been at home in open country, and 
as from the sixteenth century a peaceable penetration of 
Hindu cultivators into the best lands of the Province 
assumed large dimensions, the Gonds gradually retired to 
the hill ranges on the borders of the plains." The head- 
quarters of each dynasty at Mandla, Garha, Kherla, Deogarh 
and Chanda seem to have been located in a position 
strengthened for defence either by a hill or a great river, 
and adjacent to an especially fertile plain tract, whose 

1 Garha is six miles from Jubbulpore. 
2 See article on Kol. 

46 GOND part 

produce served for the maintenance of the ruler's household 
and headquarters establishment. Often the site was on 
other sides bordered by dense forest which would afford a 
retreat to the occupants in case it fell to an enemy. Strong 
and spacious forts were built, with masonry tanks and wells 
inside them to provide water, but whether these buildings 
were solely the work of the Gonds or constructed with the 
assistance of Hindu or Muhammadan artificers is uncertain. 
But the Hindu immigrants found Gond government tolerant 
and beneficent. Under the easy eventless sway of these 
princes the rich country over which they ruled prospered, 
its flocks and herds increased, and the treasury filled. So 
far back as the fifteenth century we read in Firishta that 
the king of Kherla, who, if not a Gond himself, was a king 
of the Gonds, sumptuously entertained the Bahmani king and 
made him rich offerings, among which were many diamonds, 
rubies and pearls. Of the Rani Durgavati of Garha-Mandla, 
Sleeman said : " Of all the sovereigns of this dynasty she 
lives most in the page of history and in the grateful recol- 
lections of the people. She built the great reservoir which 
lies close to Jubbulpore, and is called after her Rani Talao 
or Queen's pond ; and many other highly useful works were 
formed by her about Garha." When the castle of Chaura- 
garh was sacked by one of Akbar's generals in 1564, the 
booty found, according to Firishta, comprised, independently 
of jewels, images of gold and silver and other valuables, 
no fewer than a hundred jars of gold coin and a thousand 
elephants. Of the Chanda rulers the Settlement officer who 
has recorded their history wrote that, " They left, if we 
forget the last few years, a well-governed and contented 
kingdom, adorned with admirable works of engineering skill 
and prosperous to a point which no aftertime has reached. 
They have left their mark behind them in royal tombs, 
lakes and palaces, but most of all in the seven miles of 
battlemented stone wall, too wide now for the shrunk city 
of Chanda within it, which stands on the very border-line 
between the forest and the plain, having in front the rich 
valley of the Wardha river, and behind and up to the city 
walls deep forest extending to the east." According to 
local tradition the great wall of Chanda and other buildings, 


such as the tombs of the Goncl kings and the palace at 
Junona, were built by immigrant Telugu masons of the 
Kapu or Munurvvar castes. Another excellent rule of the 
Gond kings was to give to any one who made a tank a 
grant of land free of revenue of the land lying beneath it. 
A large number of small irrigation tanks were constructed 
under this inducement in the Wainganga valley, and still 
remain. But the Gond states had no strength for defence, 
as was shown when in the eighteenth century Maratha 
chiefs, having acquired some knowledge of the art of war 
and military training by their long fighting against the 
Mughals, cast covetous eyes on Gondwana. The loose 
tribal system, so easy in time of peace, entirely failed to 
knit together the strength of the people when united action 
was most required, and the plain country fell before the 
Maratha armies almost without a struggle. In the strong- 
holds, however, of the hilly ranges which hem in every part 
of Gondwana the chiefs for long continued to maintain an 
unequal resistance, and to revenge their own wrongs by indis- 
criminate rapine and slaughter. In such cases the Maratha 
plan was to continue pillaging and harassing the Gonds 
until they obtained an acknowledgment of their supremacy 
and the promise, at least, of an annual tribute. Under this 
treatment the hill Gonds soon lost every vestige of civilisa- 
tion, and became the cruel, treacherous savages depicted 
by travellers of this period. They regularly plundered and 
murdered stragglers and small parties passing through the 
hills, while from their strongholds, built on the most in- 
accessible spurs of the Satpuras, they would make a dash into 
the rich plains of Bcrar and the Nerbudda valley, and after 
looting and killing all night, return straight across country 
to their jungle fortresses, guided by the light of a bonfire on 
some commanding peak. 1 With the pacification of the 
country and the introduction of a strong and equable system 
of government by the British, these wild marauders soon 
settled down and became the timid and inoffensive labourers 
which they now are. 

Mr. Hislop took down from a Pardhan priest a Gond 5- Mythical 
myth of the creation of the world and the origin of the story of 
1 Mr. Standcn's Betid Settlement Report. L,ng0 

4 8 


Gonds, and their liberation from a cave, in which they had 
been shut up by Siva, through the divine hero Lingo. 
General Cunningham said that the exact position of the 
cave was not known, but it would seem to have been some- 
where in the Himalayas, as the name Dhawalgiri, which 
means a white mountain, is mentioned. The cave, according 
to ordinary Gond tradition, was situated in Kachikopa 
Lohagarh or the Iron Valley in the Red Hill. It seems 
clear from the story itself that its author was desirous of 
connecting the Gonds with Hindu mythology, and as Siva's 
heaven is in the Himalayas, the name Dhawalgiri, where he 
located the cave, may refer to them. It is also said that the 
cave was at the source of the Jumna. But in Mr. Hislop's 
version the cave where all the Gonds except four were shut 
up is not in Kachikopa Lohagarh, as the Gonds commonly 
say ; but only the four Gonds who escaped wandered to this 
latter place and dwelt there. And the story does not show 
that Kachikopa Lohagarh was on Mount Dhawalgiri or the 
Himalayas, where it places the cave in which the Gonds 
were shut up, or anywhere near them. On the contrary, it 
would be quite consonant with Mr. Hislop's version if 
Kachikopa Lohagarh were in the Central Provinces. It 
may be surmised that in the original Gond legend their 
ancestors really were shut up in Kachikopa Lohagarh, but 
not by the god Siva. Very possibly the story began with 
them in the cave in the Iron Valley in the Red Hill. But 
the Hindu who clearly composed Mr. Hislop's version wished 
to introduce the god Siva as a principal actor, and he there- 
fore removed the site of the cave to the Himalayas. This 
appears probable from the story itself, in which, in its 
present form, Kachikopa Lohagarh plays no real part, and 
only appears because it was in the original tradition and has 
to be retained. 1 But the Gonds think that their ancestors 
were actually shut up in Kachikopa Lohagarh, and one 
tradition puts the site at Pachmarhi, whose striking hill 
scenery and red soil cleft by many deep and inaccessible 
ravines would render it a likely place for the incident. 
Another version locates Kachikopa Lohagarh at Darekasa 

1 The argument in this section will be followed more easily if read after the 
legend in the following paragraphs. 


in Bhandara, where there is a place known as Kachagarh or 
the iron fort. But Pachmarhi is perhaps the more probable, 
as it has some deep caves, which have always been looked 
upon as sacred places. The point is of some interest, 
because this legend of the cave being in the Himalayas is 
adduced as a Gond tradition that their ancestors came from 
the north, and hence as supporting the theory of the im- 
migration of the Dravidians through the north-west of India. 
But if the view now suggested is correct, the story of the 
cave being in the Himalayas is not a genuine Gond tradition 
at all, but a Hindu interpolation. The only other ground 
known to the writer for asserting that the Gonds believed 
their ancestors to have come from the north is that they 
bury their dead with the feet to the north. There are other 
obvious Hindu accretions in the legend, as the saintly 
Brahmanic character of Lingo and his overcoming the gods 
through fasting and self-torture, and also the fact that Siva 
shut up the Gonds in the cave because he was offended 
by their dirty habits and bad smell. But the legend still 
contains a considerable quantity of true Gond tradition, and 
though somewhat tedious, it seems necessary to give an 
abridgment of Mr. Hislop's account, with reproduction of 
selected passages. Captain Forsyth also made a modernised 
poetical version, 1 from which one extract is taken. Certain 
variations from another form of the legend obtained in 
Bastar are included. 

In the beginning there was water everywhere, and God 6. Legend 
was born in a lotus-leaf and lived alone. One day he ° r f e ^ on 
rubbed his arm and from the rubbing made a crow, which 
sat on his shoulder ; he also made a crab, which swam out 
over the waters. God then ordered the crow to fly over the 
world and bring some earth. The crow flew about and 
could find no earth, but it saw the crab, which was supporting 
itself with one leg resting on the bottom of the sea. The 
crow was very tired and perched on the crab's back, which 
was soft so that the crow's feet made marks on it, which are 
still visible on the bodies of all crabs at present. The crow 
asked the crab where any earth could be found. The crab 
said that if God would make its body hard it would find 

1 Highlands of Central India (Chapman & Hall). 
VOL. Ill E 

5 o GOND part 

some earth. God said he would make part of the crab's 

body hard, and he made its back hard, as it still remains. 

The crab then dived to the bottom of the sea, where it found 

Kenchna, the earth-worm. It caught hold of Kenchna by 

the neck with its claws and the mark thus made is still to 

be seen on the earth-worm's neck. Then the earth-worm 

brought up earth out of its mouth and the crab brought this 

to God, and God scattered it over the sea and patches of 

land appeared. God then walked over the earth and a boil 

came on his hand, and out of it Mahadeo and Parvati were- 


7 . Creation From Mahadeo's urine numerous vegetables began to 

Gonds and spring up. Parvati ate of these and became pregnant and 

their gave birth to eighteen threshing-floors 1 of Brahman gods 

men^'by" an d twelve threshing-floors of Gond gods. All the Gonds 

Mahadeo. W ere scattered over the jungle. They behaved like Gonds 

and not like good Hindus, with lamentable results, as 

follows : 2 

Hither and thither all the Gonds were scattered in the jungle. 

Places, hills, and valleys were filled with these Gonds. 

Even trees had their Gonds. How did the Gonds conduct themselves ? 

Whatever came across them they must needs kill and eat it ; 

They made no distinction. If they saw a jackal they killed 

And ate it ; no distinction was observed ; they respected not antelope, 
sambhar and the like. 

They made no distinction in eating a sow, a quail, a pigeon, 

A crow, a kite, an adjutant, a vulture, 

A lizard, a frog, a beetle, a cow, a calf, a he- and she-buffalo, 

Rats, bandicoots, squirrels — all these they killed and ate. 

So began the Gonds to do. They devoured raw and ripe things ; 

They did not bathe for six months together ; 

They did not wash their faces properly, even on dunghills they would 
fall down and remain. 

Such were the Gonds born in the beginning. A smell was spread over 
the jungle 

When the Gonds were thus disorderly behaved ; they became disagree- 
able to Mahadeva, 

Who said : " The caste of the Gonds is very bad ; 

I will not preserve them ; they will ruin my hill Dhawalgiri." 

Mahadeo then determined to get rid of the Gonds. With 
this view he invited them all to a meeting. When they sat 

1 Deo-khulla or threshing-floor of the gods. See section on Religion. 
2 Passage from Mr. Hislop's version. 


down Mahadeo made a squirrel from the rubbings of his 
body and let it loose in the middle of the Gonds. All the 
Gonds at once got up and began to chase it, hoping for a 
meal. They seized sticks and stones and clods of earth, and 
their unkempt hair flew in the wind. The squirrel dodged 
about and ran away, and finally, directed by Mahadeo, ran 
into a large cave with all the Gonds after it. Mahadeo then 
rolled a large stone to the mouth of the cave and shut up 
all the Gonds in it. Only four remained outside, and they 
fled away to Kachikopa Lohagarh, or the Iron Cave in the 
Red Hill, and lived there. Meanwhile Parvati perceived 
that the smell of the Gonds, which had pleased her, had 
vanished from Dhawalgiri. She desired it to be restored 
and commenced a devotion. For six months she fasted and 
practised austerities. Bhagwan (God) was swinging in a 
swing. He was disturbed by Parvati's devotion. He sent 
Narayan (the sun) to see who was fasting. Narayan came and 
found Parvati and asked her what she wanted. She said that 
she missed her Gonds and wanted them back. Narayan told 
Bhagwan, who promised that they should be given back. 

The yellow flowers of the tree Pahindi were growing 8 The 
on Dhawalgiri. Bhagwan sent thunder and lightning, and bhth and 
the flower conceived. First fell from it a heap of turmeric Lingo. 
or saffron. In the morning the sun came out, the flower 
burst open, and Lingo was born. Lingo was a perfect 
child. He had a diamond on his navel and a sandalwood 
mark on his forehead. He fell from the flower into the 
heap of turmeric. He played in the turmeric and slept in a 
swing. He became nine years old. He said there was 
no one there like him, and he would go where he could find 
his fellows. He climbed a needle-like hill, 1 and from afar 
off he saw Kachikopa Lohagarh and the four Gonds. He 
came to them. They saw he was like them, and asked him 
to be their brother. They ate only animals. Lingo asked 
them to find for him an animal without a liver, and they 
searched all through the forest and could not. Then Lingo 
told them to cut down trees and make a field. They tried 
to cut down the anjan 2 trees, but their hands were blistered 

1 Dhupgarh in Pachmarhi might be indicated, which has a steep summit. 
2 Terminalia arjuna. 

52 GOND part 

and they could not go on. Lingo had been asleep. He 
woke up and saw they had only cut down one or two 
trees. He took the axe and cut down many trees, and 
fenced a field and made a gate to it. Black soil appeared. 
It began to rain, and rained without ceasing for three days. 
All the rivers and streams were filled. The field became 
green with rice, and it grew up. There were sixteen score 
of nilgai or blue-bull. They had two leaders, an old bull 
and his nephew. The young bull saw the rice of Lingo's 
field and wished to eat it. The uncle told him not to eat of 
the field of Lingo or all the nilgai would be killed. But the 
young bull did not heed, and took off all the nilgai to eat 
the rice. When they got to the field they could find no 
entrance, so they jumped the fence, which was five cubits high. 
They ate all the rice from off the field and ran away. The 
young bull told them as they ran to put their feet on leaves 
and stones and boughs and grass, and not on the ground, so 
that they might not be tracked. Lingo woke up and went to 
see his field, and found all the rice eaten. He knew the 
nilgai had done it, and showed the brothers how to track 
them by the few marks which they had by accident made 
on the ground. They did so, and surrounded the nilgai and 
killed them all with their bows and arrows except the old 
uncle, from whom Lingo's arrow rebounded harmlessly on 
account of his innocence, and one young doe. From these 
two the nilgai race was preserved. Then Lingo told the 
Gonds to make fire and roast the deer as follows : 

He said, I will show you something ; see if anywhere in your 

Waistbands there is a flint ; if so, take it out and make fire. 

But the matches did not ignite. As they were doing this, a watch of the 

night passed. 
They threw down the matches, and said to Lingo, Thou art a Saint ; 
Show us where our fire is, and why it does not come out. 
Lingo said : Three koss (six miles) hence is Rikad Gawadi the giant. 
There is fire in his field ; where smoke shall appear, go there, 
Come not back without bringing fire. Thus said Lingo. 
They said, We have never seen the place, where shall we go ? 
\ e have never seen where this fire is ? Lingo said ; 
I will discharge an arrow thither. 

Go in the direction of the arrow ; there you will get fire. 
He applied the arrow, and having pulled the bow, he discharged one : 
It crashed on, breaking twigs and making its passage clear. 


Having cut through the high grass, it made its way and reached the old 

man's place (above mentioned). 
The arrow dropped close to the fire of the old man, who had daughters. 
The arrow was near the door. As soon as they saw it, the daughters 

came and took it up, 
And kept it. They asked their father : When will you give us in 

marriage ? 
Thus said the seven sisters, the daughters of the old man. 
I will marry you as I think best for you ; 

Remain as you are. So said the old man, the Rikad Gawadi. 
Lingo said, Hear, O brethren ! I shot an arrow, it made its way. 
Go there, and you will see fire ; bring thence the fire. 
Each said to the other, I will not go ; but (at last) the youngest went. 
He descried the fire, and went to it ; then beheld he an old man looking 

like the trunk of a tree. 
He saw from afar the old man's field, around which a hedge was made. 
The old man kept only one way to it, and fastened a screen to the 

entrance, and had a fire in the centre of the field. 
He placed logs of the Mahua and Anjun and Saj trees on the fire, 
Teak faggots he gathered, and enkindled flame. 
The fire blazed up, and warmed by the heat of it, in deep sleep lay the 

Rikad Gawadi. 
Thus the old man like a giant did appear. When the young Gond 

beheld him, he shivered ; 
His heart leaped ; and he was much afraid in his mind, and said : 
If the old man were to rise he will see me, and I shall be eaten up ; 
I will steal away the fire and carry it off, then my life will be safe. 
He went near the fire secretly, and took a brand of tendu wood tree. 
When he was lifting it up a spark flew and fell on the hip of the old 

That spark was as large as a pot ; the giant was blistered ; he awoke 

And said : I am hungry, and I cannot get food to eat anywhere ; I feel 

a desire for flesh ; 
Like a tender cucumber hast thou come to me. So said the old man to 

the Gond, 
Who began to fly. The old man followed him. The Gond then threw 

away the brand which he had stolen. 
He ran onward, and was not caught. Then the old man, being tired, 

turned back. 
Thence he returned to his field, and came near the fire and sat, and said, 

What nonsense is this ? 
A tender prey had come within my reach ; 

I said I will cut it up as soon as I can, but it escaped from my hand ! 
Let it go ; it will come again, then I will catch it. It has gone now. 
Then what happened ? the Gond returned and came to his brethren. 
And said to them : Hear, O brethren, I went for fire, as you sent me, to 

that field ; I beheld an old man like a giant. 
With hands stretched out and feet lifted up. I ran. I thus survived 

with difficulty. 

54 GOND part 

The brethren said to Lingo, We will not go. Lingo said, Sit ye here. 
O brethren, what sort of a person is this giant ? I will go and see him. 
So saying, Lingo went away and reached a river. 
He thence arose and went onward. As he looked, he saw in front three 

Then he saw a bamboo stick, which he took up. 
When the river was flooded 
It washed away a gourd tree, and its seed fell, and each stem produced 

He inserted a bamboo stick in the hollow of the gourd and made a guitar. 
He plucked two hairs from his head and strung it. 

He held a bow and fixed eleven keys to that one stick, and played on it. 
Lingo was much pleased in his mind. 

Holding it in his hand, he walked in the direction of the old man's field. 
He approached the fire where Rikad Gawadi was sleeping. 
The giant seemed like a log lying close to the fire ; his teeth were 

hideously visible ; 
His mouth was gaping. Lingo looked at the old man while sleeping. 
His eyes were shut. Lingo said, This is not a good time to carry off 

the old man while he is asleep. 
In front he looked, and turned round and saw a tree 
Of the plpal sort standing erect ; he beheld its branches with wonder, 

and looked for a fit place to mount upon. 
It appeared a very good tree ; so he climbed it, and ascended to the top 

of it to sit. 
As he sat the cock crew. Lingo said, It is daybreak ; 
Meanwhile the old man must be rising. Therefore Lingo took the 

guitar in his hand, 
And held it ; he gave a stroke, and it sounded well ; from it he drew 

one hundred tunes. 
It sounded well, as if he was singing with his voice. 
Thus (as it were) a song was heard. 

Trees and hills were silent at its sound. The music loudly entered into 
The old man's ears ; he rose in haste, and sat up quickly ; lifted up his 

And desired to hear (more). He looked hither and thither, but could 

not make out whence the sound came. 
The old man said : Whence has a creature come here to-day to sing like 

the maina bird ? 
He saw a tree, but nothing appeared to him as he looked underneath it. 
He did not look up ; he looked at the thickets and ravines, but 
Saw nothing. He came to the road, and near to the fire in the midst or 

his field and stood. 
Sometimes sitting, and sometimes standing, jumping, and rolling, he 

began to dance. 
The music sounded as the day dawned. His old woman came out in 

the morning and began to look out. 
She heard in the direction of the field a melodious music playing. 
When she arrived near the edge of her field, she heard music in her ears. 
That old woman called her husband to her. 


With stretched hands, and lifted feet, and with his neck bent down, he 

Thus he danced. The old woman looked towards her husband, and 

said, My old man, my husband, 
Surely, that music is very melodious. I will dance, said the old woman. 
Having made the fold of her dress loose, she quickly began to dance 

near the hedge. 

Then Lingo disclosed himself to the giant and became 
friendly with him. The giant apologised for having tried to 9. Death 
eat his brother, and called Lingo his nephew. Lingo invited ^ionTf 
him to come and feast on the flesh of the sixteen scores of Lingo. 
nilgai. The giant called his seven daughters and offered 
them all to Lingo in marriage. The daughters produced 
the arrow which they had treasured up as portending a 
husband. Lingo said he was not marrying himself, but he 
would take them home as wives for his brothers. So they 
all went back to the cave and Lingo assigned two of the 
daughters each to the three elder brothers and one to the 
youngest. Then the brothers, to show their gratitude, said 
that they would go and hunt in the forest and bring meat 
and fruit and Lingo should lie in a swing and be rocked by 
their seven wives. But while the wives were swinging 
Lingo and his eyes were shut, they wished to sport with him 
as their husbands' younger brother. So saying they pulled 
his hands and feet till he woke up. Then he reproached 
them and called them his mothers and sisters, but they cared 
nothing and began to embrace him. Then Lingo was filled 
with wrath and leapt up, and seeing a rice-pestle near he 
seized it and beat them all with it soundly. Then the 
women went to their houses and wept and resolved to be 
revenged on Lingo. So when the brothers came home 
they told their husbands that while they were swinging Lingo 
he had tried to seduce them all from their virtue, and they 
were resolved to go home and stay no longer in Kachikopa 
with such a man about the place. Then the brothers were ex- 
ceedingly angry with Lingo, who they thought had deceived 
them with a pretence of virtue in refusing a wife, and they re- 
solved to kill him. So they enticed him into the forest with a 
story of a great animal which had put them to flight and asked 
him to kill it, and there they shot him to death with their 
arrows and gouged out his eyes and played ball with them. 



10. He 
the Gonds 
shut up in 
the cave 
and consti- 
tutes the 

But the god Bhagwan became aware that Lingo was not 
praying to him as usual, and sent the crow Kageshwar to 
look for him. The crow came and reported that Lingo was 
dead, and the god sent him back with nectar to sprinkle it 
over the body and bring it to life again, which was done. 

Lingo then thought he had had enough of the four 
brothers, so he determined to go and find the other sixteen 
score Gonds who were imprisoned somewhere as the brothers 
had told him. The manner of his doing this may be told 
in Captain Forsyth's version : 1 

And our Lingo redivivus 

Wandered on across the mountains, 

Wandered sadly through the forest 

Till the darkening of the evening, 

Wandered on until the night fell. 

Screamed the panther in the forest, 

Growled the bear upon the mountain, 

And our Lingo then bethought him 

Of their cannibal propensities. 

Saw at hand the tree Niruda, 

Clambered up into its branches. 

Darkness fell upon the forest, 

Bears their heads wagged, yelled the jackal 

Kolyal, the King of Jackals. 

Sounded loud their dreadful voices 

In the forest-shade primeval. 

Then the Jungle-Cock Gugotee, 

Mull the Peacock, Kurs the Wild Deer, 

Terror-stricken, screeched and shuddered, 

In that forest-shade primeval. 

But the moon arose at midnight, 

Poured her flood of silver radiance, 

Lighted all the forest arches, 

Through their gloomy branches slanting ; 

Fell on Lingo, pondering deeply 

On his sixteen scores of Koiturs. 

Then thought Lingo, I will ask her 

For my sixteen scores of Koiturs. 

' Tell me, O Moon ! ' said Lingo, 

' Tell, O Brightener of the darkness ! 

Where my sixteen scores are hidden.' 

But the Moon sailed onwards, upwards, 

And her cold and glancing moonbeams 

Said, ' Your Gonds, I have not seen them.' 

& IIalT h L C nci raCt * rCpr ° duced by P ermissi °n of the publishers, Messrs. Chapman 


And the Stars came forth and twinkled 

Twinkling eyes above the forest. 

Lingo said, " O Stars that twinkle ! 

Eyes that look into the darkness, 

Tell me where my sixteen scores are." 

But the cold Stars twinkling ever, 

Said, ' Your Gonds, we have not seen them.' 

Broke the morning, the sky reddened, 

Faded out the star of morning, 

Rose the Sun above the forest, 

Brilliant Sun, the Lord of morning, 

And our Lingo quick descended, 

Quickly ran he to the eastward, 

Fell before the Lord of Morning, 

Gave the Great Sun salutation — 

' Tell, O Sun ! ' he said, ' Discover 

Where my sixteen scores of Gonds are.' 

But the Lord of Day reply made — 

" Hear, O Lingo, I a Pilgrim 

Wander onwards, through four watches 

Serving God, I have seen nothing 

Of your sixteen scores of Koiturs." 

Then our Lingo wandered onwards 

Through the arches of the forest ; 

Wandered on until before him 

Saw the grotto of a hermit, 

Old and sage, the Black Kumait, 

He the very wise and knowing, 

He the greatest of Magicians, 

Born in days that are forgotten, 

In the unremembered ages, 

Salutation gave and asked him — 

'Tell, O Hermit! Great Kumait! 

Where my sixteen scores of Gonds are. 

Then replied the Black Magician, 

Spake disdainfully in this wise — 

" Lingo, hear, your Gonds are asses 

Eating cats, and mice, and bandicoots, 

Eating pigs, and cows, and buffaloes ; 

Filthy wretches ! wherefore ask me ? 

If you wish it I will tell you. 

Our great Mahadeva caught them, 

And has shut them up securely 

In a cave within the bowels 

Of his mountain Dewalgiri, 

With a stone of sixteen cubits, 

And his bulldog fierce Basmasur ; 

Serve them right, too, I consider, 

Filthy, casteless, stinking wretches ! " 

And the Hermit to his grotto 



Back returned, and deeply pondered 

On the days that are forgotten, 

On the un remembered ages. 

But our Lingo wandered onwards, 

Fasting, praying, doing penance ; 

Laid him on a bed of prickles, 

Thorns long and sharp and piercing. 

Fasting lay he devotee-like, 

Hand not lifting, foot not lifting, 

Eye not opening, nothing seeing. 

Twelve months long thus lay and fasted, 

Till his flesh was dry and withered, 

And the bones began to show through. 

Then the great god Mahadeva 

Felt his seat begin to tremble, 

Felt his golden stool, all shaking 

From the penance of our Lingo. 

Felt, and wondered who on earth 

This devotee was that was fasting 

Till his golden stool was shaking. 

Stepped he down from Dewalgiri, 

Came and saw that bed of prickles 

Where our Lingo lay unmoving. 

Asked him what his little game was, 

Why his golden stool was shaking. 

Answered Lingo, " Mighty Ruler ! 

Nothing less will stop that shaking 

Than my sixteen scores of Koiturs 

Rendered up all safe and hurtless 

From your cave in Dewalgiri." 

Then the Great God, much disgusted, 

Offered all he had to Lingo, 

Offered kingdom, name, and riches, 

Offered anything he wished for, 

' Only leave your stinking Koiturs 

Well shut up in Dewalgiri.' 

But our Lingo all refusing 

Would have nothing but his Koiturs ; 

Gave a turn to run the thorns a 

Little deeper in his midriff. 

Winced the Great God : " Very well, then, 

Take your Gonds — but first a favour. 

By the shore of the Black Water 

Lives a bird they call Black Bindo, 

Much I wish to see his young ones, 

Little Bindos from the sea-shore ; 

For an offering bring these Bindos, 

Then your Gonds take from my mountain." 

Then our Lingo rose and wandered, 

Wandered onwards through the forest, 


Till he reached the sounding sea-shore, 

Reached the brink of the Black Water, 

Found the Bingo birds were absent 

From their nest upon the sea-shore, 

Absent hunting in the forest, 

Hunting elephants prodigious, 

Which they killed and took their brains out, 

Cracked their skulls, and brought their brains to 

Feed their callow little Bindos, 

Wailing sadly by the sea-shore. 

Seven times a fearful serpent, 

Bhawarnag the horrid serpent, 

Serpent born in ocean's caverns, 

Coming forth from the Black Water, 

Had devoured the little Bindos — 

Broods of callow little Bindos 

Wailing sadly by the sea-shore — 

In the absence of their parents. 

Eighth this brood was. Stood our Lingo, 

Stood he pondering beside them — 

" If I take these little wretches 

In the absence of their parents 

They will call me thief and robber. 

No ! I'll wait till they come back here." 

Then he laid him down and slumbered 

By the little wailing Bindos. 

As he slept the dreadful serpent, 

Rising, came from the Black Water, 

Came to eat the callow Bindos, 

In the absence of their parents. 

Came he trunk-like from the waters, 

Came with fearful jaws distended, 

Huge and horrid, like a basket 

For the winnowing of corn. 

Rose a hood of vast dimensions 

O'er his fierce and dreadful visage. 

Shrieked the Bindos young and callow, 

Gave a cry of lamentation ; 

Rose our Lingo ; saw the monster ; 

Drew an arrow from his quiver, 

Shot it swift into his stomach, 

Sharp and cutting in the stomach, 

Then another and another ; 

Cleft him into seven pieces, 

Wriggled all the seven pieces, 

Wriggled backward to the water. 

But our Lingo, swift advancing, 

Seized the headpiece in his arms, 

Knocked the brains out on a boulder ; 

Laid it down beside the Bindos, 

6o GOND 

Callow, wailing, little Bindos. 
On it laid him, like a pillow, 
And began again to slumber. 
Soon returned the parent Bindos 
From their hunting in the forest ; 
Bringing brains and eyes of camels 
And of elephants prodigious, 
For their little callow Bindos 
Wailing sadly by the sea-shore. 
But the Bindos young and callow 
Brains of camels would not swallow ; 
Said — " A pretty set of parents 
You are truly ! thus to have us 
Sadly wailing by the sea-shore 
To be eaten by the serpent — 
Bhawarnag the dreadful serpent — 
Came he up from the Black Water, 
Came to eat us little Bindos, 
When this very valiant Lingo 
Shot an arrow in his stomach, 
Cut him into seven pieces — 
Give to Lingo brains of camels, 
Eyes of elephants prodigious." 
Then the fond paternal Bindo 
Saw the head-piece of the serpent 
Under Lingo's head a pillow, 
And he said, ' O valiant Lingo, 
Ask whatever you may wish for.' 
Then he asked the little Bindos 
For an offering to the Great God, 
And the fond paternal Bindo, 
Much disgusted first refusing, 
Soon consented ; said he'd go too 
With the fond maternal Bindo — 
Take them all upon his shoulders, 
And fly straight to Dewalgiri. 
Then he spread his mighty pinions, 
Took his Bindos up on one side 
And our Lingo on the other. 
Thus they soared away together 
From the shores of the Black Water, 
And the fond maternal Bindo, 
O'er them hovering, spread an awning 
With her broad and mighty pinions 
O'er her offspring and our Lingo. 
By the forests and the mountains 
Six months' journey was it thither 
To the mountain Dewalgiri. 
Half the day was scarcely over 
Ere this convoy from the sea-shore 


Lighted safe on Dewalgiri ; 

Touched the knocker to the gateway 

Of the Great God, Mahadeva. 

And the messenger Narayan 

Answering, went and told his master — 

" Lo, this very valiant Lingo ! 

Here he is with all the Bindos, 

The Black Bindos from the sea-shore." 

Then the Great God, much disgusted, 

Driven quite into a corner, 

Took our Lingo to the cavern, 

Sent Basmasur to his kennel, 

Held his nose, and moved away the 

Mighty stone of sixteen cubits ; 

Called those sixteen scores of Gonds out 

Made them over to their Lingo. 

And they said, " O Father Lingo ! 

What a bad time we've had of it, 

Not a thing to fill our bellies 

In this horrid gloomy dungeon." 

But our Lingo gave them dinner, 

Gave them rice and flour of millet, 

And they went off to the river, 

Had a drink, and cooked and ate it. 

The next episode is taken from a slightly different 
local version : 

And while they were cooking their food at the river a 
great flood came up, but all the Gonds crossed safely 
except the four gods, Tekam, Markam, Pusam and Telengam. 1 
These were delayed because they had cooked their food with 
ghl which they had looted from the Hindu deities. Then 
they stood on the bank and cried out, 

O God of the crossing, 
O Boundary God ! 
Should you be here, 
Come take us across. 

Hearing this, the tortoise and crocodile came up to them, 
and offered to take them across the river. So Markam and 
Tekam sat on the back of the crocodile and Pusam and 
Telengam on the back of the tortoise, and before starting 
the gods made the crocodile and tortoise swear that they 
would not eat or drown them in the sea. But when they 

1 Tekam the teak tree, Markam the These are the names of well-known 
mango tree, and Telengam the Telugu. exogamous septs. 

62 GOND part 

got to the middle of the river the tortoise and crocodile 
began to sink, with the idea that they would drown the 
Gonds and feed their young with them. Then the Gonds 
cried out, and the Raigldhni or vulture heard them. This 
bird appears to be the same as the Bindo, as it fed its young 
with elephants. The Raigldhni flew to the Gonds and took 
them up on its back and flew ashore with them. And in 
its anger it picked out the tongue of the crocodile and 
crushed the neck of the tortoise. And this is why the 
crocodile is still tongueless and the tortoise has a broken 
neck, which is sometimes inside and sometimes outside its 
shell. Both animals also have the marks of string on their 
backs where the Gond gods tied their necks together when 
they were ferried across. Thus all the Gonds were happily 
reunited and Lingo took them into the forest, and they 
founded a town there, which grew and prospered. And 
Lingo divided all the Gonds into clans and made the oldest 
man a Pardhan or priest and founded the rule of exogamy. 
He also made the Gond gods, subsequently described, 1 and 
worshipped them with offerings of a calf and liquor, and 
danced before them. He also prescribed the ceremonies of 
marriage which are still observed, and after all this was done 
Lingo went to the gods. 

(b) Tribal Subdivisions 

ii. Sub- Out of the Gond tribe, which, as it gave its name to a 

province, may be considered as almost a people, a number 
of separate castes have naturally developed. Among them 
are several occupational castes such as the Agarias or iron- 
workers, the Ojhas or soothsayers, Pardhans or priests and 
minstrels, Solahas or carpenters, and Koilabhutis or dancers 
or prostitutes. These are principally sprung from the Gonds, 
though no doubt with an admixture of other low tribes or 
castes. The Parjas of Bastar, now classed as a separate tribe, 
appear to represent the oldest Gond settlers, who were 
subdued by later immigrants of the race ; while the Bhatras 
and Jhadi Telengas are of mixed descent from Gonds and 
Hindus. Similarly the Gowari caste of cattle -graziers 

1 See section on Religion. 

BT I.J*/ . ;!"--. ,.. , '. v . 

-,v . - 

;^ : ; ' 

vv * *s 


originated from the alliances of Gond and Ahlr graziers. 
The Mannewars and Kolams are other tribes allied to the 
Gonds. Many Hindu castes and also non-Aryan tribes 
living in contact with the Gonds have a large Gond 
element ; of the former class the Ahlrs, Basors, Barhais and 
Lohars, and of the latter the Baigas, Bhunjias and Khairwars 
are instances. 

Among the Gonds proper there are two aristocratic 
subdivisions, the Raj -Gonds and Khatolas. According to 
Forsyth the Raj-Gonds are in many cases the descendants 
of alliances between Rajput adventurers and Gonds. But 
the term practically comprises the landholding subdivision of 
the Gonds, and any proprietor who was willing to pay for the 
privilege could probably get his family admitted into the 
Raj -Gond group. The Raj-Gonds rank with the Hindu 
cultivating castes, and Brahmans will take water from them. 
They sometimes wear the sacred thread. In the Telugu 
country the Raj -Gond is known as Durla or Durlasattam. 
In some localities Raj-Gonds will intermarry with ordinary 
Gonds, but not in others. The Khatola Gonds take their 
name from the Khatola state in Bundelkhand, which is said 
to have once been governed by a Gond ruler, but is no longer 
in existence. In Saugor they rank about equal with the 
Raj-Gonds and intermarry with them, but in Chhindwara it 
is said that ordinary Gonds despise them and will not marry 
with them or eat with them on account of their mixed 
descent from Gonds and Hindus. The ordinary Gonds in 
most Districts form one endogamous group, and are known 
as the Dhur or ' dust ' Gonds, that is the common people. 
An alternative name conferred on them by the Hindus is 
Rawanvansi or of the race of Rawan, the demon king of 
Ceylon, who was the opponent of Rama. The inference 
from this name is that the Hindus consider the Gonds to 
have been among the people of southern India who opposed 
the Aryan expedition to Ceylon, which is preserved in the 
legend of Rama ; and the name therefore favours the hypo- 
thesis that the Gonds came from the south and that their 
migration northward was sufficiently recent in date to permit 
of its being still remembered in tradition. There are several 
other small local subdivisions. The Koya Gonds live on the 

6 4 GOND part 

border of the Telugu country, and their name is apparently 
a corruption of Koi or Koitur, which the Gonds call them- 
selves. The Gaita are another Chanda subcaste, the word 
Gaite or Gaita really meaning a village priest or headman. 
Gattu or Gotte is said to be a name given to the hill Gonds 
of Chanda, and is not a real subcaste. The Darwe or Naik 
Gonds of Chanda were formerly employed as soldiers, and 
hence obtained the name of Naik or leader. Other local 
groups are being formed such as the Larhia or those of 
Chhattisgarh, the Mandlaha of Mandla, the Lanjiha from 
Lanji and so on. These are probably in course of becoming 
endogamous. The Gonds of Bastar are divided into two 
groups, the Maria and the Muria. The Maria are the 
wilder, and are apparently named after the Mad, as the hilly 
country of Bastar is called. Mr. Hlra Lai suggests the 
derivation of Muria from mur, thefia/as tree, which is common 
in the plains of Bastar, or from mur, a root. Both deriva- 
tions must be considered as conjectural. The Murias are 
the Gonds who live in the plains and are more civilised 
than the Marias. The descendants of the Raja of Deogarh 
Bakht Buland, who turned Muhammadan, still profess that 
religion, but intermarry freely with the Hindu Gonds. The 
term Bhoi, which literally means a bearer in Telugu, is used 
as a synonym for the Gonds and also as an honorific title. 
In Chhindwara it is said that only a village proprietor is 
addressed as Bhoi. It appears that the Gonds were used as 
palanquin-bearers, and considered it an honour to belong to 
the Kahar or bearer caste, which has a fairly good status. 1 

The Gond rules of exogamy appear to preserve traces of 
the system found in Australia, by which the whole tribe is 
split into two or four main divisions, and every man in one 
or two of them must marry a woman in the other one or two. 
This is considered by Sir J. G. Frazer to be the beginning 
of exogamy, by which marriage was prohibited, first, between 
brothers and sisters, and then between parents and children, 
by the arrangement of these main divisions. 2 

Among the Gonds, however, the subdivision into small 
exogamous septs has been also carried out, and the class 

1 See also art. Kahar. 
2 The theory is stated and explained in vol. iv. of Exogamy and Totemism. 


ii EXOGAMY 65 

system, if the surmise that it once existed be correct, remains 
only in the form of a survival, prohibiting marriage between 
agnates, like an ordinary sept. In one part of Bastar all 
the septs of the Maria Gonds are divided into two great 
classes. There are ninety septs in A Class and sixty-nine in 
B Class, though the list may be incomplete. All the septs of 
A Class say that they are Bhaiband or Dadabhai to each 
other, that is in the relation of brothers, or cousins being the 
sons of brothers. No man of Class A can marry a woman 
of any sept in Class A. The septs of Class A stand in 
relation of Mamabhai or Akomama to those of Class B. 
Mamabhai means a maternal uncle's son, and Akomama 
apparently signifies having the same maternal grandfather. 
Any man of a sept in Class A can marry any woman of a 
sept in Class B. It will thus be seen that the smaller septs 
seem to serve no purpose for regulating marriage, and are 
no more than family names. The tribe might just as well 
be divided into two great exogamous clans only. Marriage 
is prohibited between persons related only through males ; 
but according to the exogamous arrangement there is no 
other prohibition, and a man could marry any maternal 
relative. Separate rules, however, prohibit his marriage with 
certain female relatives, and these will be given subsequently. 1 
It is possible that the small septs may serve some purpose 
which has not been elicited, though the inquiry made by Rai 
Bahadur Panda Baijnath was most careful and painstaking. 

In another part of Bastar there were found to be five 
classes, and each class had a small number of septs in it. 
The people who supplied this information could not give the 
names of many septs. Thus Class A had six septs, Class B 
five, Classes C and D one each, Class E four, and Class F two. 
A man could not marry a woman of any sept belonging to 
his own class. 

The Muria Gonds of Bastar have a few large exogamous 
septs or clans named in Hindi after animals, and each of 
these clans contains several subsepts with Gondi names. 
Thus the Bakaravans or Goat race contains the Garde, 
Kunjami, Karrami and Vadde septs. The Kachhimvans 
or Tortoise race has the Netami, Kawachi, Usendi and 

1 See para. 15 
VOL. Ill F 



Tekami septs ; the Ndgvans or Cobra race includes the 
Maravi, Potari, Karanga, Nurethi, Dhurwa and others. Other 
exogamous races are the Sodi (or tiger), Behainsa (buffalo), 
Netam (dog in Gondi), Chamchidai (bat) and one or two 
more. In this case the exogamous clans with Hindi names 
would appear to be a late division, and have perhaps been 
adopted because the meaning of the old Gondi names had 
been forgotten, or the septs were too numerous to be 

In Chanda a classification according to the number of 
gods worshipped is found. There are four main groups 
worshipping seven, six, five and four gods respectively, and 
each group contains ten to fifteen septs. A man cannot 
marry a woman of any sept which worships the same number 
of gods as himself. Each group has a sacred animal which 
the members revere, that of the seven-god worshippers being 
a porcupine, of the six-god worshippers a tiger, of the five- 
god worshippers the saras crane, and of the four-god wor- 
shippers a tortoise. As a rule the members of the different 
groups do not know the names of their gods, and in practice 
it is doubtful whether they restrict themselves to the proper 
number of gods of their own group. Formerly there were 
three-, two- and one-god worshippers, but in each of these 
classes it is said that there were only one or two septs, and 
they found that they were much inconvenienced by the 
paucity of their numbers, perhaps for purposes of communal 
worship and feasting, and hence they got themselves enrolled 
in the larger groups. In reality it would appear that the 
classification according to the number of gods worshipped is 
being forgotten, and the three lowest groups have disappeared. 
This conjecture is borne out by the fact that in Chhindwara 
and other localities only two large classes remain who worship 
six and seven gods respectively, and marry with each other, 
the union of a man with a woman worshipping the same 
number of gods as himself being prohibited. Here, again, 
the small septs included in the groups appear to serve no 
purpose for regulating marriages. In Mandla the division 
according to the number of gods worshipped exists as in 
Chanda ; but many Gonds have forgotten all particulars 
as to the gods, and say only that those septs which worship 


ii TOT EM ISM 67 

the same number of gods are bhaiband, or related to each 
other, and therefore cannot intermarry. In Betul the division 
by numbers of gods appears to be wholly in abeyance. 
Here certain large septs, especially the Uika and Dhurwa, 
are subdivided into a number of subsepts, within each of 
which marriage is prohibited. 

Many of the septs are named after animals and plants. 13. Totem- 
Among the commonest septs in all Districts are Markam, 
the mango tree ; Tekam, the teak tree ; Netam, the dog ; 
Irpachi, the mahua tree ; Tumrachi, the tendu tree ; War- 
kara, the wild cat, and so on. Generally the members of a 
sept do not kill or injure their totem animals, but the rule 
is not always observed, and in some cases they now have 
some other object of veneration, possibly because they have 
forgotten the meaning of the sept name, or the object after 
which it is named has ceased to be sacred. Thus the 
Markam sept, though named after the mango, now venerate 
the tortoise, and this is also the case with the Netam sept 
in Bastar, though named after the dog. In Bastar a man 
revering the tortoise, though he will not catch the animal 
himself, will get one of his friends to catch it, and one rever- 
ing the goat, if he wishes to kill a goat for a feast, will kill 
it not at his own house but at a friend's. The meaning of 
the important sept names Marabi, Dhurwa and Uika has 
not been ascertained, and the members of the sept do not 
know it. In Mandla the Marabi sept are divided into the 
Eti Marabi and Padi Marabi, named after the goat and pig. 
The Eti or goat Marabi will not touch a goat nor sacrifice one 
to Bura Deo. They say that once their ancestors stole a goat 
and were caught by the owner, when they put a basket over 
it and prayed Bura Deo to change it into a pig, which he 
did. Therefore they sacrifice only pigs to Bura Deo, but 
apparently the Padi Marabi also both sacrifice and eat pigs. 
The Dhurwa sept are divided into the Tumrachi and Nabalia 
Dhurwa, named after the tendu tree and the dwarf date-palm. 
The Nabalia Dhurwas will not cut a dwarf date-palm nor 
eat its fruit. They worship Bura Deo in this tree instead 
of in the saj tree, making an iron doll to represent him and 
covering it with palm-leaves. The Uika sept in Mandla say 
that they revere no animal or plant, and can eat any animal 

68 GOND part 

or cut down any plant except the sdj tree, 1 the tree of Bura 
Deo ; but in Betul they are divided into several subsepts, 
each of which has a totem. The Parted sept revere the 
crocodile. When a marriage is finished they make a sacri- 
fice to the crocodile, and if they see one lying dead they 
break their earthen pots in token of mourning. The War- 
kara sept revere the wild cat ; they also will not touch a 
village cat nor keep one in their house, and if a cat comes 
in they drive it out at once. The Kunjam sept revere the 
rat and do not kill it. 
14. Con- In Betul the Gonds explain the totemistic names of 

nection of ^ e [ Y se pts by saying that some incident connected with the 

totemism r J J ° 

with the animal, tree or other object occurred to the ancestor or 
priest of the sept while they were worshipping at the Deo- 
khulla or god's place or threshing-floor. Mr. Ganga Prasad 
Khatri has made an interesting collection of these. The 
reason why these stories have been devised may be that the 
totem animals or plants have ceased to be revered on their own 
merits as ancestors or kinsmen of the sept, and it was there- 
fore felt necessary to explain the sept name or sanctity 
attaching to the totem by associating it with the gods. If 
this were correct the process would be analogous to that by 
which an animal or plant is first held sacred of itself, and, 
when this feeling begins to decay with some recognition of 
its true nature, it is associated with an anthropomorphic god 
in order to preserve its sanctity. The following are some 
examples recorded by Mr. Ganga Prasad Khatri. Some of 
the examples are not associated with the gods. 

Gajjami, subsept of Dhurwa sept. From gaj\ an arrow. 
Their first ancestor killed a tiger with an arrow. 

Gouribans Dhurwa. Their first ancestor worshipped his 
gods in a bamboo clump. 

Kasadya Dhurwa. {Kosa, tasar silk cocoon.) The first 
ancestor found a silk cocoon on the tree in which he wor- 
shipped his gods. 

Kohkapath. Kohka is the fruit of the bhilawa 1 or marking- 
nut tree, and path, a kid. The first ancestor worshipped his 
gods in a bhilawa tree and offered a kid to them. Members 
of this sept do not eat the fruit or flowers of the bhilawa tree. 

1 Boswellia serrata. s Semecarpus anacardian. 


Jaglya. One who keeps awake, or the awakener. The 
first ancestor stayed awake the whole night in the Deo-khulla, 
or god's threshing-floor. 

Sariyam. (Sarri, a path.) The first ancestor swept the 
path to the Deo-khulla. 

Gudddm. Gudda is a place where a hen lays her eggs. 
The first ancestor's hen laid eggs in the Deo-khulla. 

Irpachi. The mahua tree. A mahua tree grew in the 
Deo-khulla or worshipping-place of this sept. 

Admachi. The dhaura tree. 1 The first ancestor wor- 
shipped his gods under a dhaura tree. Members of the sept 
do not cut this tree nor burn its wood. 

Sarati Dhurwa. (Sardti, a whip.) The first ancestor 
whipped the priest of the' gods. 

Suibadiwa. (Sui, a porcupine.) The first ancestor's 
wife had a porcupine which went and ate the crop of an old 
man's field. He tried to catch it, but it went back to her. 
He asked the name of her sept, and not being able to find 
it out called it Suibadiwa. 

Watka. (A stone.) Members of this sept worship five 
stones for their gods. Some say that the first ancestors 
were young boys who forgot where the Deo-khulla was and 
therefore set up five stones and offered a chicken to them. 
As they did not offer the usual sacrifice of a goat, members 
of this sept abstain from eating goats. 

Tumrecha Uika. (The tendu tree. 2 ) It is said that the 
original ancestor of this sept was walking in the forest with 
his pregnant wife. She saw some tendu fruit and longed 
for it and he gave it to her to eat. Perhaps the original 
idea may have been that she conceived through swallowing 
a tendu fruit. Members of this sept eat the fruit of the 
tendu tree, but do not cut the tree nor make any use of its 
leaves or branches. 

Tumdan Uika. Tumdan is a kind of pumpkin or gourd. 
They say that this plant grows in their Deo-khulla. The 
members drink water out of this gourd in the house, but do 
not carry it out of the house. 

Kadfa-chor Uika. (Stealer of the kadfa.) Kadfa is the 
sheaf of grain left standing in the field for the gods when 

1 Anogeissics latifolia. 2 Diosypyros tomeniosa. 

7 o GOND part 

the crop is cut. The first ancestor stole the kadfa and 
offered it to his gods. 

Gadhamar Uika. (Donkey-slayer.) Some say that the 
gods of the sept came to the Deo-khulla riding on donkeys, 
and others that the first ancestor killed a donkey in the 

Eti-kumra. Eti is a goat. The ancestors of the sept 
used to sacrifice a Brahman boy to their gods. Once they 
were caught in the act by the parents of the boy they had 
stolen, and they prayed to the gods to save them, and the 
boy was turned into a goat. They do not kill a goat nor 
eat its flesh, nor sacrifice it to the gods. 

Alike, This word means ' on the other side of a river.' 
They say that a man of the Dhurwa sept abducted a girl of the 
Uika sept from the other side of a river and founded this sept. 

Tirgam. The word means fire. They say that their 
ancestor's hand was burnt in the Deo-khulla while cooking 
the sacrifice. 

Tekam. (The teak tree.) The ancestor of the sept had 
his gods in this tree. Members of the sept will not eat 
food off teak leaves, but they will use them for thatching, and 
also cut the tree. 

Manapa. In Gondi mani is a son and apa a father. 
They say that their ancestors sacrificed a Brahman father 
and son to their gods and were saved by their being turned 
into goats like the Eti-kumra sept. Members of the sept 
do not kill or eat a goat. 

Korpachi. The droppings of a hen. The ancestors of 
the sept offered these to his gods. 

Mandani. The female organ of generation. The ancestor 
of the sept slept with his wife in the Deo-khulla. 

Paiyam. Paiya is a heifer which has not borne a calf, 
such as is offered to the gods. Other Gonds say that the 
people of this sept have no gods. They are said not only 
to marry a girl from any other subsept of the Dhurwas and 
Uikas, but from their own sept and even their own sisters, 
though this is probably no longer true. They are held to be 
the lowest of the Gonds. Except in this instance, as already 
seen, the subsepts of the Dhurwa and Uika septs do not 
intermarry with each other. 


(V) Marriage Customs 

A man must not marry in his own sept, nor in one which 15- Pro- 
worships the same number of gods, in localities where the on inter . 
classification of septs according to the number of gods marriage, 
worshipped obtains. Intermarriage between septs which are ofrelations. 
bhaiband or brothers to each other is also prohibited. The 
marriage of first cousins is considered especially suitable. 
Formerly, perhaps, the match between a brother's daughter 
and sister's son was most common ; this is held to be a 
survival of the matriarchate, when a man's sister's son was 
his heir. But the reason has now been generally forgotten, 
and the union of a brother's son to a sister's daughter has 
also become customary, while, as girls are scarce and have to 
be paid for, it is the boy's father who puts forward his claim. 
Thus in Mandla and Bastar a man thinks he has a right to 
his sister's daughter for his son on the ground that his family 
has given a girl to her husband's family, and therefore they 
should give one back. This match is known as Dudh lautdna 
or bringing back the milk ; and if the sister's daughter 
marries any one else her maternal uncle sometimes claims 
what is known as ' milk money,' which may be a sum of Rs. 5, 
in compensation for the loss of the girl as a wife for his son. 
This custom has perhaps developed out of the former match 
in changed conditions of society, when the original relation 
between a brother and his sister's son has been forgotten and 
girls have become valuable. But it is said that the dudh 
or milk money is also payable if a brother refuses to give his 
daughter to his sister's son. In Mandla a man claims his 
sister's daughter for his son and sometimes even the daughter 
of a cousin, and considers that he has a legitimate grievance 
if the girl is married to somebody else. Frequently, if he 
has reason to apprehend this, he invites the girl to his house 
for some ceremony or festival, and there marries her to his 
son without the consent of her parents. As this usually 
constitutes the offence of kidnapping under the Penal Code, 
a crop of criminal cases results, but the procedure of arrest 
without warrant and the severe punishment imposed by the 
Code are somewhat unsuitable for a case of this kind, which, 
according to Gond ideas, is rather in the nature of a civil 



wrong, and a sufficient penalty would often be the payment 
of an adequate compensation or bride-price for the girl. The 
children of two sisters cannot, it is said, be married, and a 
man cannot marry his wife's elder sister, any aunt or niece, 
nor his mother-in-law or her sister. But marriage is not 
prohibited between grandparents and grandchildren. If an 
old man marries a young wife and dies, his grandson will 
marry her if she is of proper age. In this there would be 
no blood-relationship, but it is doubtful whether even the 
existence of such relationship would prevent the match. It 
is said that even among Hindu castes the grandfather will 
flirt with his granddaughter, and call her his wife in jest, and 
the grandmother with her grandson. In Bastar a man can 
marry his daughter's daughter or maternal grandfather's or 
grandmother's sister. He could not marry his son's daughter 
or paternal grandfather's sister, because they belong to 
the same sept as himself. 

In the Maria country, if a girl is made pregnant by a 
man of the caste before marriage, she simply goes to his 
house and becomes his wife. This is called P ait kit or enter- 
ing. The man has to spend Rs. 2 or 3 on food for the caste 
and pay the price for the girl to her parents. If a girl has 
grown up and no match has been arranged for her to which 
she agrees, her parents will ask her maternal uncle's or 
paternal aunt's son to seize her and take her away. These 
two cousins have a kind of prescriptive claim to the girl, and 
apparently it makes no difference whether the prospective 
husband is already married or not. He and his friends lie 
in wait near her home and carry her off, and her parents 
afterwards proceed to his house to console their daughter 
and reconcile her to the match. Sometimes when a woman 
is about to become what is known as a Paisamundi or kept 
woman, without being married, the relations rub her and the 
man whose mistress she is with oil and turmeric, put marriage 
crowns of palm-leaves on their heads, pour water on them 
from the top of a post, and make them go seven times round 
a mahua branch, so that they may be considered to be married. 
When a couple are very poor they may simply go and live 
together without any wedding, and perform the ceremony 
afterwards when they have means, or they distribute little 


pieces of bread to the tribesmen in lieu of the marriage 

Marriage is generally adult. Among the wild Maria 17. Mar- 
Gonds of Bastar the consent of the girl is considered an ^f a e n 
essential preliminary to the union. She gives it before a ment of 
council of elders, and if necessary is allowed time to make 
up her mind. The boy must also agree to the match. 
Elsewhere matches are arranged by the parents, and a bride- 
price which amounts to a fairly substantial sum in com- 
parison with the means of the parties is usually paid. But 
still the girls have a considerable amount of freedom. It is 
generally considered that if a girl goes of her own accord 
and pours turmeric and water over a man, it is a valid 
marriage and he can take her to live in his house. Married 
women also sometimes do this to another man if they wish 
to leave their husbands. 

The most distinctive feature of a Gond marriage is that l8 - The 

1 • 11 r ii'i)i 11 marriage 

the procession usually starts from the bride s house and the ceremony. 
wedding is held at that of the bridegroom, in contradistinction 
to the Hindu practice. It is supposed that this is a survival 
of the custom of marriage by capture, when the bride was 
carried off from her own house to the bridegroom's, and any 
ceremony which was requisite was necessarily held at the 
house of the latter. But the Gonds say that since Dulha 
Deo, the bridegroom god and one of the commonest village 
deities, was carried off by a tiger on his way to his wedding, 
it was decided that in future the bride must go to the bride- 
groom to be married in order to obviate the recurrence of 
such a calamity. Any risk incidental to the journey thus falls 
to the lady. Among the wilder Maria Gonds of Bastar the 
ritual is very simple. The bride's party arrive at the bride- 
groom's village and occupy some huts made ready for them. 
His father sends them provisions, including a pig and fowls, 
and the day passes in feasting. In the evening they go to 
the bridegroom's house, and the night is spent in dancing by 
the couple and the young people of the village. Next 
morning the bride's people go back again, and after another 
meal her parents bring her to the bridegroom's house and 
push her inside, asking the boy's father to take charge of 
her, and telling her that she now belongs to her husband's 

74 GOND part 

family and must not come back to them alone. The girl 
cries a little for form's sake and acquiesces, and the business 
is over, no proper marriage rite being apparently performed at 
all. Among the more civilised Marias the couple are seated 
for the ceremony side by side under a green shed, and water 
is poured on them through the shed in imitation of the 
fertilising action of rain. Some elder of the village places 
his hands on them and the wedding is over. But Hindu 
customs are gradually being adopted, and the rubbing of 
powdered turmeric and water on the bodies of the bride and 
bridegroom is generally essential to a proper wedding. The 
following description is given of the Gonds of Ranker. On 
the day fixed for the marriage the pair, accompanied by 
the Dosi or caste priest, proceed to a river, in the bed of 
which two reeds five or six feet high are placed just so far 
apart that a man can lie down between them, and tied 
together with a thread at the top. The priest lies down 
between the reeds, and the bride and bridegroom jump seven 
times over his body. After the last jump they go a little 
way off, throw aside their wet clothes, and then run naked 
to a place where their dry clothes are kept ; they put them 
on and go home without looking back. Among the Gonds 
in Khairagarh the pair are placed in two pans of a balance 
and covered with blankets. The caste priest lifts up the 
bridegroom's pan and her female relatives the bride's, and 
walk round with them seven times, touching the marriage- 
post at each time. After this they are taken outside the 
village without being allowed to see each other. They are 
placed standing at a little distance with a screen between 
them, and liquor is spilt on the ground to make a line from 
one to the other. After a time the bridegroom lifts up the 
screen, rushes on the bride, gives her a blow on the back 
and puts the ring on her finger, at the same time making a 
noise in imitation of the cry of a goat. All the village then 
indulge in bacchanalian orgies, not sparing their own 
19. Wed- In Bastar it is said that the expenses of a wedding vary 

pendkurc. from Rs - 5 to Rs. 20 for the bride's family and from Rs. 10 
to Rs. 50 for the bridegroom's, according to their means. 1 
1 One rupee=is. 4d. 


In a fairly well-to-do family the expenditure of the bride- 
groom's family is listed as follows : liquor Rs. 20, rice 
Rs. 12, salt Rs. 2, two goats Rs. 2, chillies Rs. 2, ghi Rs. 4, 
turmeric Rs. 2, oil Rs. 3, three cloths for the bride Rs. 8, 
two sheets and a loin-cloth for her relatives Rs. 5, payment 
to the Kumhar for earthen pots Rs. 5, the bride-price Rs. 
10, present to the bride's maternal uncle when she is not 
married to his son Rs. 2, and something for the drummers. 
The total of this is Rs. 76, and any expenditure on 
ornaments which the family can afford may be added. In 
wealthier localities the bride-price is Rs. 15 to 20 or more. 
Sometimes if the girl has been married and dies before the 
bride-price has been paid, her father will not allow her body 
to be buried until it is paid. The sum expended on a 
wedding probably represents the whole income df the family 
for at least six months, and often for a considerably longer 
period. In Chanda * the bride's party on arrival at the 
bridegroom's village receive the Bara jaw a or marriage 
greeting, every one present being served with a little rice- 
water, an onion and a piece of tobacco. At the wedding 
the bridegroom has a ring either of gold, silver or copper, 
lead not being permissible, and places this on the bride's 
finger. Often the bride resists and the bridegroom has to 
force her fist open, or he plants his foot on hers in order 
to control her while he gets the ring on to her finger. 
Elsewhere the couple hold each other by the little fingers 
in walking round the marriage -post, and then each places 
an iron ring on the other's little finger. The couple then 
tie strings, coloured yellow with turmeric, round each other's 
right wrists. On the second day they are purified with 
water and put on new clothes. On the third day they go to 
worship the god, preceded by two men who carry a chicken 
in a basket. This chicken is called the Dhendha or associate 
of the bridal couple, and corresponds to the child which in 
Hindu marriages is appointed as the associate of the bride- 
groom. Just before their arrival at the temple the village 
jester snatches away the chicken, and pretends to eat it. 
At the temple they worship the god, and deposit before him 
the strings coloured with turmeric which had been tied on 

1 From Mr. Langhorne's monograph. 

7 6 


their wrists. In Chhindwara the bride is taken on a bullock 
to the bridegroom's house. At the wedding four people 
hold out a blanket in which juari, lemons and eggs are 
placed, and the couple walk round this seven times, as in 
the Hindu bhanwar ceremony. They then go inside the 
house, where a chicken is torn asunder and the blood 
sprinkled on their heads. At the same time the bride 
crushes a chicken under her foot. In Mandla the bride on 
entering the marriage-shed kills a chicken by cutting off its 
head either with an axe or a knife. Then all the gods of 
her house enter into her and she is possessed by them, and 
for each one she kills a chicken, cutting off its head in the 
same manner. The chickens are eaten by all the members 
of the bride's party who have come with her, but none 
belonging to the bridegroom's party may partake of them. 
Here the marriage-post is made of the wood of the mahua 
tree, round which a toran or string of mango leaves is twisted, 
and the couple walk seven times round this. In Wardha 
the bride and bridegroom stand on the heap of refuse 
behind the house and their heads are knocked together. In 
Bhandara two spears are placed on the heap of refuse and 
their ends are tied together at the top with the entrails of 
a fowl. The bride and bridegroom have to stand under 
the spears while water is poured over them, and then run 
out. Before the bride starts the bridegroom must give her 
a blow on the back, and if he can do this before she runs 
out from the spears it is thought that the marriage will be 
lucky. The women of the bride's and bridegroom's party 
also stand one at each end of a rope and have a competition 
in singing. They sing against each other and see which can 
go on the longest. Brahmans are not employed at a Gond 
wedding. The man who officiates is known as Dosi, and is 
the bridegroom's brother-in-law, father's sister's husband or 
some similar relative. A woman relative of the bride helps 
her to perform her part and is known as Sawasin. To the 
Dosi and Sawasin the bride and bridegroom's parties present 
an earthen vessel full of kodon. The donors mark the pots, 
take them home and sow them in their own fields, and then 
give the crop to the Dosi and Sawasin. 

Some years ago in Balaghat the bride and bridegroom 


sat and ate food together out of two leaf-plates. When 20. Special 
they had finished the bride took the leaf-plates, ran with custonis - 
them to the marriage-shed, and fixed them in the woodwork 
so that they did not fall down. The bridegroom ran after 
her, and if she did not put the plates away quickly, gave her 
one or two blows with his fist. This apparently was a 
symbolical training of the bride to be diligent and careful 
in her household work. Among the Raj-Gonds of Saugor, 
if the bridegroom could not come himself he was accustomed 
to send his sword to represent him. The Sawasin carried 
the sword seven times round the marriage -post with the 
bride and placed a garland on her on its behalf, and the 
bride put a garland over the sword. This was held to be a 
valid marriage. In a rich Raj-Gond or Khatola Gond family 
two or three girls would be given with the bride, and they 
would accompany her and become the concubines of the 
bridegroom. Among the Maria Gonds of Chanda the 
wedded pair retire after the ceremony to a house allotted 
to them and spend the night together. Their relatives and 
friends before leaving shout and make merry round the 
house for a time, and throw all kinds of rubbish and dirt on 
it. In the morning the couple have to get up early and 
clear all this off, and clean up the house. A curious 
ceremony is reported from one part of Mandla. When a 
Gond girl is leaving to be married, her father places inside 
her litter a necklace of many strings of blue and yellow 
beads, with a number of cowries at the end, and an iron 
ring attached to it. On her arrival at the bridegroom's 
house his father takes out the necklace and ring. Sometimes 
it is said that he simply passes a stone through the ring, 
but often he hangs it up in the centre of a room, and the 
bridegroom's relatives throw stones at it until one of them 
goes through the ring, or they throw long bamboo sticks 
or shoot arrows at it, or even fire bullets from a gun. In a 
recent case it is said that a man was trying to fire a bullet 
through the ring and killed a girl. Until a stone, stick, 
arrow or bullet has been sent through the ring the marriage 
cannot take place, nor can the bridegroom or his father touch 
the bride, and they go on doing this all night until some- 
body succeeds. When the feat has been done they pour a 

7 8 GOND part 

bottle of liquor over the necklace and ring, and the bride's 
relatives catch the liquor as it falls, and drink it. The girl 
wears the necklace at her wedding, and thereafter so long as 
her husband lives, and when he dies she tears the string to 
pieces and throws it into the river. The iron ring must be 
made by a Gondi Lohar or blacksmith, and he will not 
accept money in payment for it, but must be given a cow, 
calf, or buffalo. The symbolical meaning of this rite does 
not appear to require explanation. 1 In many places the 
bride and bridegroom go and bathe in a river or tank on 
the day after the wedding, and throw mud and dirt over each 
other, or each throws the other down and rolls him or her 
in the mud. This is called Chikhal-Mundi or playing in 
the mud. Afterwards the bride has to wash the bridegroom's 
muddy clothes, roll them up in a blanket, and carry them 
on her head to the house. A see-saw is then placed in the 
marriage-shed, and the bridegroom's father sits on it. The 
bride makes the see-saw move up and down, while her 
relations joke with her and say, ' Your child is crying.' 
Elsewhere the bridegroom's father sits in a swing. The 
bride and bridegroom swing him, and the bystanders exclaim 
that the old man is the child of the new bride. It seems 
possible that both customs are meant to portray the rocking 
of a baby in a cradle or swinging it in a swing, and hence it 
is thought that through performing them the bride will soon 
rock or swing a real baby. 
21. Taking In Bastar an omen is taken before the wedding. The 
village elders meet on an auspicious day as Monday, 
Thursday or Friday, and after midnight they cook and eat 
food, and go out into the forest. They look for a small 
black bird called Usi, from which omens are commonly 
taken. When anybody sees this bird, if it cries ' Sun, Sun,' 
on the right hand, it is thought that the marriage will be 
lucky. If, however, it cries ' Chi, Chi" or 'Fie, Fie," the proposed 
match is held to be of evil omen, and is cancelled. The 
Koya Gonds of Bastar distil mahua liquor before arranging 
for a match. If the liquor is good they think the marriage 

The above rite has some resem- bending the bow of Odysseus and 
blance to the test required of the .shooting an arrow through the axes, 
suitors of Penelope in the Odyssey of which they could not perform. 


will be lucky, and take the liquor with them to cement the 
betrothal ; but if it is bad they think the marriage will be 
unlucky, and the proposal is dropped. Mondays, Wednes- 
days and Fridays are held to be lucky days for marriages, 
and they are celebrated in the hot- weather months of Baisakh, 
Jesth and Asar, or April, May and June, or in Pus (December), 
and rarely in Magh (January). A wedding is only held in 
Kartik (October) if the bride and bridegroom have already 
had sexual intercourse, and cannot take place in the 

Survivals of the custom of marriage by capture are to be 22. Mar- 
found in many localities. In Bastar the prospective bride- capture" 
groom collects a party of his friends and lies in wait for the Weeping 
girl, and they catch her when she comes out and gets a andhldin s- 
little distance from her house. The girl cries out, and 
women of the village come and rescue her and beat the 
boys with sticks till they have crossed the boundary of the 
village. The boys neither resist nor retaliate on the women, 
but simply make off with the girl. When they get home a 
new cloth is given to her, and the boys have a carouse on 
rice-beer, and the marriage is considered to be complete. 
The parents do not interfere, but as a rule the affair is 
prearranged between the girl and her suitor, and if she really 
objects to the match they let her go. A similar procedure 
occurs in Chanda. Other customs which seem to preserve 
the idea that marriage was once a forcible abduction are 
those of the bride weeping and hiding, which are found in 
most Districts. In Balaghat the bride and one or two 
friends go round to the houses of the village and to other 
villages, all of them crying, and receive presents from their 
friends. In Wardha the bride is expected to cry con- 
tinuously for a day and a night before the wedding, to show 
her unwillingness to leave her family. In Kanker it is said 
that before marriage the bride is taught to weep in different 
notes, so that when that part of the ceremony arrives in 
which weeping is required, she may have the proper note at 
her command. In Chhindwara the bridegroom's party go 
and fetch the bride for the wedding, and on the night before 
her departure she hides herself in some house in the village. 
The bridegroom's brother and other men seek all through 

8o GOND part 

the village for her, and when they find her she runs and 
clings to the post of the house. The bridegroom's brother 
carries her off by force, and she is taken on a bullock to the 
bridegroom's house. In Seoni the girl hides in the same 
manner, and calls out ' Coo, coo,' when they are looking for 
her. After she is found, the bridegroom's brother carries 
her round on his back to the houses of his friends in the 
village, and she weeps at each house. When the bride's 
party arrive at the bridegroom's village the latter's party 
meet them and stop them from proceeding further. After 
waving sticks against each other in a threatening manner 
they fall on each other's necks and weep. Then two 
spears are planted to make an arch before the door, and 
the bridegroom pushes the bride through these from be- 
hind, hitting her to make her go through, while she hangs 
back and feigns reluctance. In Mandla the bride some- 
times rides to the wedding on the shoulders of her sister's 
husband, and it is supposed that she never gets down all 
the way. 
23. Serving The practice of Lamsena, or serving for a wife, is 
for a wife. comm only adopted by boys who cannot afford to buy one. 
The bridegroom serves his prospective father-in-law for an 
agreed period, usually three to five or even six years, and at 
its expiry he should be married to the girl without expense. 
During this time he is not supposed to have access to the 
girl, but frequently they become intimate, and if this happens 
the boy may either stay and serve his unexpired term or 
take his wife away at once ; in the latter case his parents 
should pay the girl's father Rs. 5 for each year of the 
bridegroom's unexpired service. The Lamsena custom does 
not work well as a rule, since the girl's parents can break 
their contract, and the Lamsena has no means of redress. 
Sometimes if they are offered a good bride-price they will 
marry the girl to another suitor when he has served the 
greater part of his term, and all his work goes for 

r 2 e 4 ma ^ idow The remarriage of widows is freely permitted. As a 

riage. r ule it is considered suitable that she should marry her 

deceased husband's younger brother, but she may not marry 

his elder brother, and in the south of Bastar and Chanda 

1 1 WW O W RE MA RRIA GE 8 1 

the union with the younger brother is also prohibited. In 
Mandla, if she will not wed the younger brother, on the 
eleventh day after the husband's death he puts the tarkhi 
or palm-leaf earrings in her ears, and states that if she 
marries anybody else he will claim dawa-bunda or compensa- 
tion. Similarly in Bastar, if an outsider marries the widow, 
he first goes through a joint ceremony with the younger 
brother, by which the latter relinquishes his right in favour 
of the former. The widow must not marry any man whom 
she could not have taken as her first husband. After her 
husband's death she resides with her parents, and a price 
is usually paid to them by any outsider who wishes to 
marry her. In Bastar there is a fixed sum of Rs. 24, half 
of which goes to the first husband's family and half to the 
caste panchayat. The payment to the panchayat perhaps 
comes down from the period when widows were considered 
the property of the state or the king, and sold by auction 
for the benefit of the treasury. It is said that the descendants 
of the Gond Rajas of Chanda still receive a fee of Rs. 1-8 
from every Gond widow who is remarried in the territories 
over which their jurisdiction extended. In Bastar when a 
widow marries again she has to be transferred from the 
gods of her first husband's sept to those of her second 
husband. For this two leaf-cups are filled with water and 
mahua liquor respectively, and placed with a knife between 
them. The liquor and water are each poured three times 
from one cup to the other and back until they are thoroughly 
mixed, and the mixture is then poured over the heads of 
the widow and her second husband. This symbolises her 
transfer to the god of the new sept. In parts of Bastar 
when a man has been killed by a tiger and his widow 
marries again, she goes through the ceremony not with her 
new husband but with a lance, axe or sword, or with a dog. 
It is thought that the tiger into which her first husband's 
spirit has entered will try to kill her second husband, but 
owing to the precaution taken he will either simply carry 
off the dog or will himself get killed by an axe, sword or 
lance. In most localities the ceremony of widow-marriage 
is simple. Turmeric is rubbed on the bodies of the couple 
and they may exchange a pair of rings or their clothes. 
VOL. Ill G 

8 2 GOND part 

Divorce is freely allowed on various grounds, as for 
Divorce. ac j u itery on the wife's part, a quarrelsome disposition, care- 
lessness in the management of household affairs, or if a 
woman's children continue to die, or she is suspected of 
being a witch. Divorce is, however, very rare, for in order 
to get a fresh wife the man would have to pay for another 
wedding, which few Gonds can afford, and he would also 
have difficulty in getting a girl to marry him. Therefore 
he will often overlook even adultery, though a wife's adultery 
not infrequently leads to murder among the Gonds. In 
order to divorce his wife the nusband sends for a few caste- 
men, takes a piece of straw, spits on it, breaks it in two and 
throws it away, saying that he has renounced all further 
connection with his wife. If a woman is suspected of being 
a witch she often has to leave the village and go to some 
place where she is not known, and in that case her husband 
must either divorce her or go with her. There is no regular 
procedure for a wife divorcing her husband, but she can, 
if sufficiently young and attractive, take matters into her 
own hands, and simply leave her husband's house and go 
and live with some one else. In such a case the man who 
takes her has to repay to the husband the sum expended by 
the latter on his marriage, and the panchayat may even decree 
that he should pay double the amount. When a man 
divorces his wife he has no liability for her maintenance, 
and often takes back any ornaments he may have given 
her. And a man who marries a divorced woman may be 
expected to pay her husband the expenses of his marriage. 
Instances are known of a bride disappearing even during 
the wedding, if she dislikes her partner ; and Mr. Lampard 
of the Baihir Mission states that one night a Gond wedding 
party came to his house and asked for the loan of a lantern 
to look for the bride who had vanished. 
26. Poly- Polygamy is freely allowed, and the few Gonds who can 

afford the expense are fond of taking a number of wives. 
Wives are very useful for cultivation as they work better 
than hired servants, and to have several wives is a sign of 
wealth and dignity. A man who has a number of wives 
will take them all to the bazar in a body to display his 
importance. A Gond who had seven wives in Balaghat 


was accustomed always to take them to the bazar like this, 
walking- in a line behind him. 

id) Birth and Pregnancy 

In parts of Mandla the first appearance of the signs of 27. Men- 
puberty in a girl is an important occasion. She stays apart struatlon - 
for four days, and during this time she ties up one of her 
body-cloths to a beam in the house in the shape of a cradle, 
and swings it for a quarter or half an hour every day in the 
name of Jhulan Devi, the cradle goddess. On the fifth day 
she goes and bathes, and the Baiga priest and his wife go 
with her. She gives the Baiga a hen and five eggs and 
a bottle of wine, and he offers them to Jhulan Devi at her 
shrine. To the Baigan she gives a hen and ten eggs and 
a bottle of liquor, and the Baigan tattoos the image of 
Jhulan Devi on each side of her body. A black hen with 
feathers spotted with white is usually chosen, as they say 
that this hen's blood is of a darker colour and that she lays 
more eggs. All this ceremonial is clearly meant to induce 
fertility in the girl. The Gonds regard a woman as impure 
for as long as the menstrual period lasts, and during this 
time she cannot draw water nor cook food, nor go into a 
cowshed or touch cowdung. In the wilder Maria tracts 
there is, or was till lately, a building out of sight of the 
village to which women in this condition retired. Her 
relatives brought her food and deposited it outside the hut, 
and when they had gone away she came out and took it. 
It was considered that a great evil would befall any one 
who looked on the face of a woman during the period of 
this impurity. The Raj-Gonds have the same rules as 
Hindus regarding the menstrual periods of women. 1 

No special rites are observed during pregnancy, and the 28. Super- 
superstitions about women in this condition resemble those st ^T 
of the Hindus. 2 A pregnant woman must not go near a pregnancy 
horse or elephant, as they think that either of these animals birth*' 1 * 1 " 
would be excited by her condition and would assault her. 

1 The information on child-birth is of Chhindwara, and from notes taken in 

obtained from papers by Mr. Durga Mandla. 

Prasad Pande, Extra Assistant Com- 2 See articles on Kunbi, Kurmi, 

missioner, and the Rev. Mr. Franzen and Mehtar. 

g 4 GOND part 

In cases where labour is prolonged they give the woman water 
to drink from a swiftly flowing stream, or they take pieces of 
wood from a tree struck by lightning or by a thunder-bolt, 
and make a necklace of them and hang it round her neck. 
In these instances the swiftness of the running water, or of the 
lightning or thunder-bolt, is held to be communicated to the 
woman, and thus she will obtain a quick delivery. Or else 
they ask the Gunia or sorcerer to discover what ancestor 
will be reborn in the child, and when he has done this he 
calls on the ancestor to come and be born quickly. If a 
woman is childless they say that she should worship Bura 
Deo and fast continually, and then on the termination of 
her monthly impurity, after she has bathed, if she walks 
across the shadow of a man she will have a child. It is 
thus supposed that the woman can be made fertile by the 
man's shadow, which will be the father of the child. Or 
she should go on a Sunday night naked to a sdj tree * and 
pray to it, and she may have a child. The sdj is the tree in 
which Bura Deo resides, and was probably in the beginning 
itself the god. Hence it is supposed that the woman is 
impregnated by the spirit of the tree, as Hindu women think 
that they can be made fertile by the spirits of unmarried 
Brahman boys living in plpal trees. Or she may have 
recourse to the village priest, the Bhumka or the Baiga, who 
probably finds that her barren condition is the work of an 
evil spirit and propitiates him. If a woman dies in the 
condition of pregnancy they cut her belly open before burial, 
so that the spirit of the child may escape. If she dies 
during or soon after delivery they bury her in some remote 
jungle spot, from which her spirit will find it difficult to return 
to the village. The spirit of such a woman is supposed to 
become a Churel and to entice men, and especially drunken 
men, to injury by causing them to fall into rivers or get shut 
up in hollow trees. The only way they can escape her is 
to offer her the ornaments which a married woman wears. 
Her enmity to men is due to the fact that she was cut off 
when she had just had the supreme happiness of bearing a 
child, and the present of these ornaments appeases her. 
The spirit of a woman whose engagement for marriage has 

1 Boswellia serrata. 


been broken off, or who has deserted her husband's house 
for another man's, is also supposed to become a Churel. If 
an abortion occurs, or a child is born dead or dies very 
shortly after birth, they put the body in an earthen pot, and 
bury it under the heap of refuse behind the house. They 
say that this is done to protect the body from the witches, 
who if they get hold of it will raise the child's spirit, and 
make it a Bir or familiar spirit. Witches have special power 
over the spirits of such children, and can make them enter 
the body of an owl, a cat, a dog, or a headless man, and in 
this form cause any injury which the witch may desire to 
inflict on a human being. The real reason for burying the 
bodies of such children close to the house is probably, how- 
ever, the belief that they will thus be born again in the 
same family. If the woman is fat and well during pregnancy 
they think a girl will be born, but if she is ailing and thin, 
that the child will be a boy. If the nipples of her breasts 
are of a reddish colour they think the birth of a boy is 
portended, but if of blackish colour, a girl. When a birth 
occurs another woman carefully observes the knots or pro- 
tuberances on the navel - cord. It is supposed that the 
number of them indicates the further number of children 
which will be born to the mother. A blackish knot inclining 
downwards portends a boy, and a reddish one inclining 
upwards a girl. It is supposed that an intelligent midwife 
can change the order of these knots, and if a woman has 
only borne girl-children can arrange that the next one shall 
be a boy. 

Professional midvvives are not usually employed at child- 29. Pro- 
birth, and the women look after each other. Among the ce ?"":f at 

' ° a birth. 

Maria Gonds of Bastar the father is impure for a month 
after the birth of a child and does not go to his work. A 
Muria Gond father is impure until the navel-cord drops ; he 
may reap his crop, but cannot thresh or sow. This is perhaps 
a relic of the custom of the Couvade. The rules for the 
treatment of the mother resemble those of the Hindus, but 
they do not keep her so long without food. On some day 
from the fifth to the twelfth after the birth the mother is 
purified and the child is named. On this day its hair is 
shaved by the son-in-law or husband's or wife's brother-in- 

86 GOND part 

law. The mother and child are washed and rubbed with 
oil and turmeric, and the house is freshly whitewashed and 
cleaned with cowdung. They procure a winnowing-fan full 
of kodon and lay the child on it, and the mother ties this 
with a cloth under her arm. In the Nagpur country the 
impurity of the mother is said to last for a month, during 
which time she is not allowed to cook food and no one 
touches her. Among the poorer Gonds the mother often 
does not lie up at all after a birth, but eats some pungent 
root as a tonic and next day gees on with her work. 
30. Xames. On the Sor night, or that of purification, the women of 

the village assemble and sing. The mother holds the child 
in her lap, and they each put a pice (^d.) in a dish as a 
present to it. A name is chosen, and an elderly woman 
announces it. Names are now often Hindu words, and are 
selected very much at random. 1 If the child was born on a 
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday the name of the 
day is often given, as Mangal, Budhu, Sukhiya, Itwari ; or if 
born in the month of Magh (January), Phagun (February), 
Chait (March), Baisakh (April), Jesth (May), or Pus 
(December), the name may be from the month, as Mahu, 
Phagu, Chaitia, Baisakhu, Jetha and Puso. The names of 
the other months are also given, but are less common. If 
any Government official is in the village when the child is 
born it may be named after his office, as Daroga, Havildar 
(head - constable), Vaccinator, Patwari (village surveyor), 
Jemadar (head process-server), or Munshi (clerk). If a 
European officer is in the village the child may be called 
Gora (red) or Bhura (brown). Other names are Zamlndar 
(landholder) or Kirsan (tenant). Or the child may be 
named after any peculiarity, as Ghurman, fat, Kaluta, black, 
Chatua, one who kicks, and so on. Or it may be given a 
bad name in order to deceive the evil spirits as to its value, 
as Ghurha, a heap of cowdung, Jharu, sweepings, Dumre or 
Bhangi, a sweeper, Chamari, a Chamar or tanner, and so on. 
If the mother has got the child after propitiating a spirit, it 
may be called Bhuta, from bhfit, a spirit or ghost. Nick- 
names are also given to people when they grow up, as 

1 The following examples of names were furnished by the Rev. Mr. Franzen 
and Mr. D. P. Pande. 


Dariya, long-footed, Bobdi, fat and sluggish, Putchi, having 
a tail or cat-like, Bera, an idiot, and so on. Such names 
come into general use, and the bearers accept and answer to 
them without objection. All the above names are Hindi. 
Names taken from the Gond language are rare or non- 
existent, and it would appear either that they have been com- 
pletely forgotten, or else that the Gonds had not advanced 
to the stage of giving every individual a personal name prior 
to their contact with the Hindus. 

If a child is born feet first its feet are supposed to have 31. Super- 
special power, and people suffering from pain in the back about 
come and have their backs touched by the toes of the child's children. 
left foot. This power is believed to be retained in later 
life. If a woman gets a child when the signs of menstruation 
have not appeared, the child is called Lamka, and is held to 
be in danger of being struck by lightning. In order to 
avert this fate an offering of a white cock is made to the 
lightning during the month of Asarh (June) following the 
birth, when thunderstorms are frequent, and prayer is made 
that it will accept this sacrifice in lieu of the life of the child. 
They think that the ancestors who have been mingled with 
Bura Deo may be born again. Sometimes such an ancestor 
appears in a dream and intimates that he is coming back to 
earth. Then if a newborn child will not drink its mother's 
milk, they think it is some important male ancestor, and that 
he is vexed at being in such a dependent position to a 
woman over whom he formerly had authority. So they call 
the Gunia or sorcerer, and he guesses what ancestor has 
been reborn by measuring a stick. He says that if the 
length of the stick is an even number of times the breadth 
of his hand, or more or less than half a hand-breadth over, 
such and such an ancestor is reborn in the child. Then he 
measures his hand along the stick breadthwise, and when 
the measurement comes to that foretold for a particular 
ancestor he says that this one has been reborn ; or if they 
find any mark on the body of the child corresponding to one 
they remember to have been borne by a particular ancestor, 
they identify it with this ancestor. Then they wash the 
child's feet as a token of respect, and pass their hands over 
its head and say to it, ' Drink milk, and we will give you a 

8 8 GOND part 

ring and clothes and jewels.' Sometimes they think that an 
ancestor has been born again in a calf, and the Gunia 
ascertains who he is in the same manner. Then this calf is 
not castrated if a bull, nor put to the plough if it is a cow, 
and when it dies they will not take off its hide for sale but 
bury it with the hide on. 

It is believed that if a barren woman can get hold of 
the first hair of another woman's child or its navel-cord, she 
can transfer the mother's fertility to herself, so they dispose 
of these articles very carefully. If they wish the child to 
grow fat, they bury the navel-cord in a manure-heap. The 
upper milk teeth are thrown on to the roof, and the lower 
ones buried under a water-pot. They say that the upper 
ones should be in a high place, and the lower ones in a low 
place. The teeth thrown on the roof may be meant for the 
rats, who in exchange for them will give the child strong 
white teeth like their own, while those thrown under the 
water-pot will cause the new teeth to grow large and quickly, 
like the grass under a water-pot. Diseases of children are 
attributed to evil spirits. The illness called Sukhi, in which 
the body and limbs grow weak and have a dried-up appear- 
ance, is very common, and is probably caused by malnutrition. 
They attribute it to the machinations of an owl which has 
heard the child's name or obtained a piece of its soiled 
clothing. If a stone or piece of wood is thrown at the owl 
to scare it away, it will pick this up, and after wetting it in 
a stream, put it out in the sun to dry. As the stone or 
wood dries up, so will the child's body dry up and wither. 
In order to cure this illness they use charms and amulets, 
and also let the child wallow in a pig-sty so that it may 
become as fat as the pigs. They say that they always beat 
a brass dish at a birth so that the noise may penetrate the 
child's ears, and this will remove any obstruction there may 
be to its hearing. If the child appears to be deaf, they lay 
it several times in a deep grain-bin for about half an hour at 
a time ; when it cries the noise echoes in the bin, and this is 
supposed to remove the obstruction to its power of hearing. 
If they wish the boy to be a good dancer, they get a little of 
the flesh of the kingfisher or hawk which hangs poised in the 
air over water by the rapid vibration of its wings, on the 


look-out for a fish, and give him this to eat. If they 
wish him to speak well, they touch his finger with the tip of 
a razor, and think that he will become talkative like a barber. 
If they want him to run fast, they look for a stone on which 
a hare has dropped some dung and rub this on his legs, or 
they get a piece of a deer's horn and hang it round his neck 
as a charm. If a girl or boy is very dark-coloured, they get 
the branches of a creeper called malkangni, and express the 
oil from them, and rub it on the child's face, and think it 
will make the face reddish. Thus they apparently consider 
a black colour to be ugly. 

(<?) Funeral Rites 

Burial of the dead has probably been the general custom 3 2 - Dis - 
of the Gonds in the past, and the introduction of cremation f^e dead, 
may be ascribed to Hindu influence. The latter method of 
disposal involves greater expense on account of the fuel, 
and is an honour reserved for elders and important men, 
though in proportion as the body of the tribe in any locality 
becomes well-to-do it may be more generally adopted. The 
dead are usually buried with the feet pointing to the north 
in opposition to the Hindu practice, and this fact has been 
adduced in evidence of the Gond belief that their ancestors 
came from the north. The Maria Gonds of Bastar, however, 
place the feet to the west in the direction of the setting sun, 
and with the face upwards. In some places the Hindu 
custom of placing the head to the north has been adopted. 
Formerly it is said that the dead were buried in or near the 
house in which they died, so that their spirits would thus the 
more easily be born again in children, but this practice has 
now ceased. In most British Districts Hindu ceremonial 1 
tends more and more to be adopted, but in Bastar State and 
Chanda some interesting customs remain. 

Among the Maria Gonds a drum is beaten to announce 33- Funeral 
a death, and the news is sent to relatives and friends in other Ci 
villages. The funeral takes place on the second or third 
day, when these have assembled. They bring some pieces 
of cloth, and these, together with the deceased's own clothes 

1 See article on Kurmi. 



and some money, are buried with him, so that they may 
accompany his spirit to the other world. Sometimes the 
women will put a ring of iron on the body. The body is 
borne on a hurdle to the burial- or burning-ground, which is 
invariably to the east of the village, followed by all the men 
and women of the place. Arrived there, the bearers with 
the body on their shoulders face round to the west, and 
about ten yards in front of them are placed three saj leaves 
in a line with a space of a yard between each, the first 
representing the supreme being, the second disembodied 
spirits, and the third witchcraft. Sometimes a little rice is 
put on the leaves. An axe is struck three times on the 
ground, and a villager now cries to the corpse to disclose the 
cause of his death, and immediately the bearers, impelled, as 
they believe, by the dead man, carry the body to one of the 
leaves. If they halt before the first, then the death was in 
the course of nature ; if before the second, it arose from the 
anger of offended spirits ; if before the third, witchcraft was 
the cause. The ordeal may be thrice repeated, the arrange- 
ment of the leaves being changed each time. If witchcraft 
is indicated as the cause of death, and confirmed by the 
repeated tests, the corpse is asked to point out the sorcerer 
or witch, and the body is carried along until it halts before 
some one in the crowd, who is at once seized and disposed of 
as a witch. Sometimes the corpse may be carried to the 
house of a witch in another village to a distance of eight or 
ten miles. In Mandla in such cases a Gunia or exorciser 
formerly called on the corpse to go forward and point out 
the witch. The bearers then, impelled by the corpse, made 
one step forward and stopped. The exorciser then again 
adjured the corpse, and they made a step, and this was 
repeated again and again until they halted in front of the 
supposed witch. AIL: the beholders and the bearers them- 
selves thus thought that they were impelled by the corpse, 
and the episode is a good illustration of the power of sugges- 
tion. Frequently the detected witch was one of the 
deceased's wives. In Mandla the cause of the man's death 
was determined in the digging of his grave. When piling in 
the earth removed for the grave after burial, if it reached 
exactly to the surface of the ground, they thought that the 


dead man had died after living the proper span of his life. 
If the earth made a mound over the hole, they thought he 
had lived beyond his allotted time and called him Slgpur, 
that is a term for a measure of grain heaped as high as it 
will stand above the brim. But if the earth was insufficient 
and did not reach to the level of the ground, they held that 
he had been prematurely cut off, and had been killed by 
an enemy or by a witch through magic. 

Children at breast are buried at the roots of a mahua 
tree, as it is thought that they will suck liquor from them 
and be nourished as if by their mother's milk. The mahua 
is the tree from whose flowers spirits are distilled. The 
body of an adult may also be burnt under a mahua tree so 
that the tree may give him a supply of liquor in the next 
world. Sometimes the corpse is bathed in water, sprinkled 
over with milk and then anointed with a mixture of mahua 
oil, turmeric and charcoal, which will prevent it from being 
reincarnated in a human body. In the case of a man killed 
by a tiger the body is burned, and a bamboo image of a tiger 
is made and thrown outside the village. None but the 
nearest relatives will touch the body of a man killed by a 
tiger, and they only because they are obliged to do so. 
None of the ornaments are removed from the corpse, and 
sometimes any other ornaments possessed by the deceased 
are added to them, as it is thought that otherwise the tiger 
into which his spirit passes will come back to look for them 
and kill some other person in the house. In some localities 
any one who touches the body of a man killed or even 
wounded by a tiger or panther is put temporarily out of 
caste. Yet the Gonds will eat the flesh of tigers and 
panthers, and also of animals killed and partly devoured by 
them. When a man has been killed by a tiger, or when he 
has died of disease and before death vermin have appeared 
in a wound, the whole family are temporarily out of caste 
and have to be purified by an elaborate ceremony in which 
the Bhumka or village priest officiates. The method of 
laying the spirit of a man killed by a tiger resembles that 
described in the article on Baiga. 

Mourning is usually observed for three days. The 
mourners abstain from work and indulgence in luxuries, and 


» 4 . Muum- the house is cleaned and washed. The Gonds often take 
ing and f ooc j on t h e S p t a ft er the burial or burning of a corpse and 
the dead, they usually drink liquor. On the third day a feast is 
given. In Chhindwara a bullock or cow is slaughtered on 
the death of a male or female Gond respectively. They tie 
it up by the horns to a tree so that its forelegs are in the 
air, and a man slashes it across the head once or twice until 
it dies. The head is buried under a platform outside the 
village in the name of the deceased. Sometimes the spirit 
of the dead man is supposed to enter into one of the persons 
present and inform the party how he died, whether from 
witchcraft or by natural causes. He also points out the 
place where the bullock's or cow's head is to be buried, and 
here they make a platform to his spirit with a memorial 
stone. Red lead is applied to the stone and the blood of a 
chicken poured over it, and the party then consume the 
bodies of the cow and chicken. In Mandla the mourners 
are shaved at the grave nine or ten days after the death by 
the brother-in-law or son-in-law of the deceased, and they 
cook and eat food there and drink liquor. Then they come 
home and put oil on the head of the heir and tie a piece of 
new cloth round his head. They give the dead man's clothes 
and also a cow or bullock to the Pardhan priest, and offer a 
goat to the dead man, first feeding the animal with rice, and 
saying to the dead man's spirit, ' Your son- or brother-in-law 
has given you this.' Sometimes the rule is that the priest 
should receive all the ornaments worn on the right side of a 
man or the left side of a woman, including those on the head, 
arm and leg. If they give him a cow or bullock, they will 
choose the one which goes last when the animals are let out 
to graze. Then they cook and eat it in the compound. 
They have no regular anniversary ceremonies, but on the 
new moon of Kunwar (September) they will throw some rice 
and pulse in front of the house and pour, water on it in 
honour of the dead. The widow breaks her glass bangles 
when the funeral takes place, and if she is willing she may 
be married to the dead man's younger brother on the expiry 
of the period of mourning. 

In Bastar, at some convenient time after the death, a 
stone is set up in memory of any' dead person who was an 


adult, usually by the roadside. Families who have emigrated 35- 
to other localities often return to their parent village for stones t o 
setting up these stones. The stones vary according to the the dead - 
importance of the deceased, those for prominent men being 
sometimes as much as eight feet high. In some places a 
small stone seat is made in front, and this is meant for the 
deceased to sit on, the memorial stone being his house. 
After being placed in position the stone is anointed with 
turmeric, curds, gJil and oil, and a cow or pig is offered to it. 
Afterwards irregular offerings of liquor and tobacco are made 
to the dead man at the stone by the family and also by 
strangers passing by. They believe that the memorial stones 
sometimes grow and increase in size, and if this happens 
they think that the dead man's family will become extinct, 
as the stone and the family cannot continue to grow together. 
Elsewhere a long heap of stones is made in honour of a dead 
man, sometimes with a flat-topped post at the head. This 
is especially done for men who have died from epidemic 
disease or by an accident, and passers-by fling stones on the 
heap with the idea that the dead man's spirit will thereby 
be kept down and prevented from returning to trouble the 
living. In connection with the custom of making a seat at 
the deceased's tomb for his spirit to sit upon, Mr. A. K. Smith 
writes : " It is well known to every Gond that ghosts and 
devils cannot squat on the bare ground like human beings, 
and must be given something to sit on. The white man 
who requires a chair to sit on is thus plainly akin to the 
world of demons, so one of the few effective ways of getting 
Gonds to open their mouths and talk freely is to sit on the 
ground among them. Outside every Gond house is placed 
a rough bench for the accommodation of any devils that may 
be flitting about at night, so that they may not come indoors 
and trouble the inmates." 

If one or two persons die in a house in one year, the 3 6 - House 
family often leave it and make another house. On quitting H^"^ 0111 
the old house they knock a hole in the back wall to go out, death. 
so as to avoid going out by the front door. This is usually 
done when the deaths have been due to an epidemic, and it 
is presumably supposed that the dead men's spirits will haunt 
the house and cause others to die, from spite at their own 


untimely end. If an epidemic visits a village, the Gonds 

will also frequently abandon it, and make a new village on 

another site. 

37 . Bring- They believe that the spirits of ancestors are reincarnated 

tag back j children or in animals. Sometimes they make a mark 

the soul. 

with soot or vermilion on the body of a dead man, and if 
some similar mark is subsequently found on any newborn 
child it is held that the dead man's spirit has been reborn 
in it. In Bastar, on some selected day a short time after 
the death, they obtain two small baskets and set them out 
at night, placing a chicken under one and some flour of 
wheat or kutki under the other. The householder then 
says, " I do the work of those old men who died. O spirits, 
I offer a chicken to you to-day ; be true and I will perform 
your funeral rites to-morrow." On the next morning the 
basket placed over the flour is lifted up, and if a mark re- 
sembling a footprint of a man or any animal be found, they 
think that the deceased has become incarnate in a human 
being or in that animal. Subsequently they sacrifice a cow 
to the spirit as described. In other places on the fifth day 
after death they perform the ceremony of bringing back the 
soul. The relatives go to the riverside and call aloud the 
name of the dead person, and then enter the river, catch a 
fish or insect and, taking it home, place it among the sainted 
dead of the family, believing that the spirit of the dead 
person has in this manner been brought back to the house. 
The brother-in-law or son-in-law of the dead man will make 
a miniature grass hut in the compound and place the fish or 
insect inside it. He will then sacrifice a pig, killing it with 
a rice-husker, and with not more than three blows. The 
animal is eaten, and next morning he breaks down the hut 
and throws away the earthen pots from the house. They 
will spread some flour on the ground and in the morning 
bring a chicken up to it If the animal eats the flour they 
say that the soul of the deceased has shown his wish to 
remain in the house, and he is enshrined there in the shape 
of a stone or copper coin. If it does not eat, then they say 
that the spirit will not remain in the house. They take the 
stone or coin outside the village, sacrifice a chicken to it and 
bury it under a heap of stones to prevent it from returning. 


Sometimes at the funeral ceremony one of the party is pos- 
sessed by the spirit of the dead man, and a little white mark 
or a small caterpillar appears on his hand, and they say 
that it is the soul of the dead man come back. Then the 
caterpillar vanishes again, and they say that the dead man 
has been taken among the gods, and go home. Occasionally 
some mark may appear on the hand of the dead man's son 
after a period of time, and he says that his father's soul has 
come back, and gives another funeral feast. The good souls 
are quickly appeased and their veneration is confined to 
their descendants. But the bad ones excise a wider interest 
because their evil influences may be extended to others. 
And the same fear attaches to the spirits of persons who 
have died a violent or unnatural death. The soul of a man 
who has been eaten by a tiger must be specially propitiated, 
and ten or twelve days are occupied in bringing it back. 
To ascertain when this has been done a thread is tied to a 
beam and a copper ring is suspended from it, being secured 
by twisting the thread round it and not by a knot. A pot 
full of water is placed below the ring. Songs are then sung 
in propitiation and a watch is kept day and night. When 
the ring falls from the thread and drops into the water it is 
considered that the soul has come back. If the ring delays 
to fall they adjure the dead man to come back and ask 
where he has gone to and why he is tarrying. Animals 
are offered to the ring and their blood poured over it, and 
when it finally falls they rejoice greatly and say that the 
dead man has come back. The ancestors are represented 
by small pebbles kept in a basket in the kitchen, which is 
considered the holiest part of the house, or they may be 
pice copper coins (£d.) tied up in a little bundle. They 
are daubed with vermilion and worshipped occasionally. 
A man who has been killed by a tiger or cobra may receive 
general veneration, with the object of appeasing his spirit, 
and become a village god. And the same honour may be 
accorded to any prominent man, such as the founder of a 

In Mandla the dead are sometimes mingled with Bura 38. The 
Deo or the Great God. On the occasion of a communal s^becHn 
sacrifice to Bura Deo a stalk of charra grass is picked in Bur a Deo. 

9 6 GOND part 

the name of each of the dead ancestors, and tied to the 
little bundle containing a pice and a piece of turmeric, which 
represents the dead ancestor in the house. The stalk of 
grass and the bundle is called kunda ; and all the kundas 
arc then hidden in grass or under stones in the adjacent 
forest. Then Bura Deo comes on some man and possesses 
him, and he waves his arms about and goes and finds all 
the kundas. Some of them he throws down beside Bura 
Deo, and these they say have been absorbed in Bura Deo 
and are disposed of. Others he throws apart, and these are 
said not to have been absorbed into the god. For the latter, 
as well as for all persons who have died a violent death, 
a heap of stones should be made outside the village, and 
wine and a fowl are offered at the heap, and passers-by 
cast additional stones on it to keep down their spirits, 
which remain unquiet because they have not been absorbed 
in the god, and are apt to wander about and trouble the 

39. Belief The Gonds seem originally to have had no idea of a 

place of abode for the spirits of the dead, that is a heaven 
or hell. So far as can be conjectured, their primary view 
of the fate of the spirits of the dead, after they had come to 
consider the soul or spirit as surviving the death of the body, 
was that they hung about the houses and village where they 
had dwelt, and were able to exert considerable influence on 
the lives and fortunes of their successors. An alternative 
or subsequent view was that they were reincarnated, most 
frequently in the bodies of children born in the same family, 
and less frequently in animals. Whether or no this doctrine 
of reincarnation is comparatively late and borrowed from 
Hinduism cannot be decided. In Bastar, however, they 
have now a conception of retribution after death for the souls 
of evil-doers. They say that the souls are judged after death, 
and the sinful are hurled down into a dense forest without 
any sulphi trees. The sulphi tree appears to be that variety 
of palm from which palm-liquor or toddy is obtained in 
Bastar, and the Gond idea of a place of punishment for 
departed sinners is, therefore, one in which no alcoholic 
liquor is to be had. 

in a future 


(/) Religion 

The religious practices of the Gonds present much variety. 40. Nature 
The tribal divisions into groups worshipping seven, six, five r > eii^ion° nd 
and four gods, already referred to, are generally held to refer The gods. 
to the number of gods which a man has in his house. But 
very few Gonds can name the gods of their sect, and the 
prescribed numbers are seldom adhered to. The worship 
of ancestors is an integral part of their religion and is 
described in the section on funeral customs. Bura Deo, 
their great god in most localities, was probably at first the 
saj tree, 1 but afterwards the whole collection of gods were 
sometimes called Bura Deo. He is further discussed subse- 
quently. The other Gond gods proper appear to be princi- 
pally implements and weapons of the chase, one or two 
animals, and deified human beings. A number of Hindu 
deities have now also been admitted into the Gond pantheon. 
The following account of the gods is largely taken from a 
note written by Mr. J. A. Tawney. 2 The worship of the 
Gonds may be summarised as that of the gods presiding 
over the village destinies, the crops, and epidemic disease, 
the spirits of their forefathers and the weapons and creatures 
of the chase. The village gods are generally common to 
the Gonds and Hindus. They consist of stones, or mud 
platforms, placed at a convenient distance from the village 
under the shade of some appropriate tree, and often having 
a red or white flag, made of a piece of cloth, tied to the end 
of a pole to indicate their position. The principal village 
gods have been given in the article on Kurmi. Besides 
these in Gond villages there is especially Bhlmsen, who is 
held to be Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers, and is 
the god of strength. Ghor Deo 3 is the horse god, and 
Holera, who is represented by a wooden bullock's bell, is 
the god of cattle. Ghansiam Deo is a god much worshipped 
in Mandla. He is said to have been a prince who was 
killed by a tiger on his way to his wedding like Dulha 
Deo. In northern Bastar the Gonds worship the spirit of a 

1 Boswellia serrata. the Central Provinces Census Report 

2 Deputy - Commissioner, Chhind- for 1881 (Mr. Drysdale). 
wara. The note was contributed to 3 GAora, a horse. 

VOL. Ill H 

9 8 GOND part 

Muhammadan doctor under the name of Doctor Deo. A 
Gond of the place where the doctor died is occasionally 
possessed by his spirit, and on such occasions he can talk 
fluent Urdu. This man's duty is to keep off cholera, and 
when the epidemic breaks out he is ordered by the Raja to 
drive it away. The local method of averting cholera is to 
make a small litter covered with cloth, and in it to place a 
brass or silver image of the cholera goddess, Marai Mata. 
When the goddess is thus sent from one village to another 
it is supposed that the epidemic is similarly transferred. 
The man possessed by Doctor Deo has the power of prevent- 
ing the approach of this litter to villages in Bastar, and 
apparently also can drive away the epidemic, though his 
method of doing this is not explained. The dealings of the 
Gonds with the Government of India are mainly conducted 
through chuprassies or peons, who come to collect their 
revenue, obtain supplies and so on. The peons have in the 
past been accustomed to abuse their authority and practise 
numerous petty extortions, which is a very easy business 
with the ignorant Gonds of the wilder tracts. Regarding 
the peons as the visible emblem of authority, the Gonds, 
like the Oraons, have similarly furnished the gods with a 
peon, who is worshipped under the name of Kalha Deo with 
offerings of liquor and fowls. Besides this if a tiger makes 
himself troublesome a stone is set up in his honour and he 
receives a small offering ; and if a platform has been erected 
to the memory of the founder of the village he is included 
with the others. The cholera and smallpox deities are 
worshipped when an epidemic breaks out. The worship of 
the village gods is communal, and in Chhlndwara is per- 
formed at the end of the hot weather before seed is sown, 
houses thatched, or the new mahua oil eaten by the Gonds. 
All the villagers subscribe, and the Bhumka or village priest 
conducts the rite. If in any year the community cannot 
afford a public worship they hang up a little grass over the 
god just to intimate that they have not forgotten him, but 
that he will have to wait till next year. 

41. Tribal _ ■ J 

gods, and Besides the village gods worshipped in common with the 

their j>iace Hindus, the Gonds have also their special tribal gods. These 
dence. are sometimes kept at a Deo-khulla, which is said to mean 


literally the threshing-floor of the gods, and is perhaps so 
called because the place of meeting of the worshippers is 
cleaned and plastered like a threshing-floor in the fields. 
The gods most commonly found are Pharsi Pen, the battle- 
axe god ; Matiya, the great god of mischief; Ghangra, the 
bell god ; Chawar, the cow's tail, which is also used as a 
whisk ; Palo, who consists of a piece of cloth used to cover 
spear-heads ; and Sale, who may be the god who presides 
over cattle-pens {said). The Deo-khulla of a six-god Gond 
should have six, and that of a seven-god Gond seven gods, 
but this rule is not regularly observed, and the Deo-khullas 
themselves now tend to disappear as the Gonds become 
Hinduised and attention is concentrated on the village and 
household gods. The collection of gods at a Deo-khulla, 
Mr. Tawney remarks, is called Bura Deo, and when a Gond 
swears by Bura Deo, he swears by all the gods of his sect. 
" The gods," Mr. Tawney writes, " are generally tied up in 
grass and fixed in the fork of the sdj tree, or buried in some 
recess in the forest, except Palo, who is put in a bag to 
prevent his getting wet, and Chawar the cow's tail. The 
Bhumkas or priests are somewhat shy of showing the gods 
at the Deo-khulla, and they may have some reason for this, 
for not long since, a young scamp of a Muhammadan, having 
determined to put to a test the reputed powers of the Gond 
gods for evil, hid himself in a tree near the Deo-khulla during 
a meeting, and afterwards took the gods out and threw them 
bag and baggage down a well. However, when I went there, 
the Bhumka at Mujawar after some parley retired into the 
forest, and came out quite confidingly with an armful of gods. 
The Deo-khulla gods are generally all of iron, and those at 
Mujawar were all spear-shaped except Palo, who is a piece of 
cloth, and Ghangra, who is of bell-metal and in form like the 
bells ordinarily put round the necks of bullocks. When a 
spear-head has been lost, and another is not available, anything 
in the shape of a pike or spear will do, and it does not appear 
to make any difference so long as iron is the metal used. 
Women may not worship at the Deo-khulla. It seems clear 
that the original gods were, with the exception of Ghangra, 
hunting-weapons and representations of animals. Ghangra 
may be venerated because of his association with bullocks 

100 GOND part 

and also on account of the melodious sound made by bullock- 
bells. Of all the gods the most remarkable probably is Palo. 
He is made of cloth and acts as a covering for the spear- 
heads at the time of worship. The one I saw was a small 
cloth, about 30 by 18 inches, and in the form of a shield. 
He is a very expensive god and costs from Rs. 50 to Rs. 80, 
his outside value perhaps being Rs. 5. When a new one is 
required it has to be made by a Katia or Raj-Pardhan, who 
must live in a separate house and not go near his own till 
its completion. He must also be naked while he is working 
and may not eat, drink, smoke or perform natural functions 
till he has finished for the day. While engaged on the cloth 
he is well fed by the Gonds and supplied with fowls and 
spirits ; it is not surprising, therefore, that the god is never 
finished in six months, though I would engage to make one 
in a week. The cloth is embroidered with figures in coloured 
silk, with a stitch or two of red silk in each animal, which 
will subsequently represent blood. The animals I saw 
embroidered were a bullock, some sort of deer, a gouty- 
looking snake with a body as thick as the elephant's, and the 
latter animal barely distinguishable from it by having two 
legs and a trunk. When ready the cloth Palo is taken to 
the Deo-khulla and a great worship is held, during which 
blood is seen to flow from the figures on the cloth and they 
are supposed to be endowed with life." The animals 
embroidered on the cloth are probably those principally 
revered by the Gonds, as the elephant, snake, deer and 
bullock, while the worship of the cloth itself and the em- 
broidery on it indicates that they considered the arts of 
weaving and sewing as divinely revealed accomplishments. 
And the fact that the other gods were made of iron shows a 
similar reverence for this metal, which they perhaps first dis- 
covered in India. At any rate the quarrying and refining 
of indigenous iron-ore is at present carried out by the 
Agarias, a caste derived from the Gonds. The spear- 
head shape of most of the gods and that of Palo like a shield 
show their veneration for these weapons of war, which are 
themselves sacred. 
42. House- "In almost every house," Mr. Tawney states, "there is 
also a set of gods for everyday use. They are often the same 

ii NAG DEO 101 

as the village gods or those of the Deo-khulla and also include 
deified ancestors. These household gods have a tendency to 
increase, as special occasions necessitate the creation of a new 
god, and once he is enthroned in the house he never seems to 
leave it of his own accord. Thus if a man is killed by a cobra ; 
he or the cobra becomes a household god and is worshipped 
for many generations. If a set of gods does not work satis- 
factorily, they are also, some or all of them, discarded and a 
new lot introduced. The form of the gods varies consider- 
ably, the only constant thing about them being the vermilion 
with which they are all daubed. They are sometimes all 
earthen cones and vary from that to miniature wooden tables. 
I may mention that it is somewhat difficult to get a Gond 
either to confess that he has any household gods or to show 
them. The best way is to send off the father of the family 
on some errand, and then to ask his unsuspecting wife to 
bring out the gods. You generally get them on a tray and 
some of the villagers will help her to name them." In 
Mandla in every Gond's house there is a Deothana or god's 
place, where all the gods are kept. Those who have children 
include Jhulan Devi, or the cradle goddess, among their 
household deities. In the Deothana there is always a vessel 
full of water and a stick, and when a man comes in from 
outside he goes to this and sprinkles a little water over his 
body to free himself from any impurity he may have con- 
tracted abroad. 

On one of the posts of the house the image of Nag Deo, 43 . Nag 
the cobra god, is made in mud. In Asarh (June) the first De0- 
month of the rains, which the Gonds consider the beginning 
of the year, snakes frequently appear. In this month they 
try to kill a cobra, and will then cut off the head and tail, 
and offer them to Nag Deo, inside the house, while they 
cook and eat the body. They think that the eating of the 
snake's body will protect them from the effects of eating any 
poisonous substance throughout the year. 

Narayan Deo or the sun is also a household deity. He 44- 
has a little platform inside the threshold of the house. He D ^ }a 
may be worshipped every two or three years, but if a snake 
appears in the house or any one falls ill they think that 
Narayan Deo is impatient and perform his worship. A 


young pig is offered to him and is sometimes fattened up 
beforehand by feeding it on rice. The pig is laid on its 
back over the threshold of the door and a number of men 
press a heavy beam of wood on its body till it is crushed to 
death. They cut off the tail and testicles and bury them 
near the threshold. The body of the pig is washed in a hole 
dug in the yard, and it is then cooked and eaten. They 
sing to the god, " Eat, Narayan Deo, eat this rice and meat, 
and protect us from all tigers, snakes and bears in our 
houses ; protect us from all illnesses and troubles." Next 
day the bones and any other remains of the pig are buried 
in the hole in the compound and the earth is well stamped 
down over it. 
45. Bura Bura Deo, the great god of the Gonds, is sometimes, 

as seen, a name for all the gods in the Deo-khulla. But he 
is usually considered as a single god, and often consists of 
a number of brass or iron balls suspended to a ring and 
hung on a sdj tree. Again, he may be represented by a 
few links of a roughly forged iron chain also hung on the 
tree, and the divine power of the chain is shown by the 
fact that it can move of itself, and occasionally descends to 
rest on a stone under the tree or migrates to a neighbour- 
ing nullah (stream). Nowadays in Mandla Bura Deo is found 
as an iron doll made by a neighbouring blacksmith instead 
of a chain. It would appear, however, that he was originally 
the sdj tree {Boswellia serrata), an important forest tree 
growing to a considerable height, which is much revered by 
the Gonds. They do not cut this tree, nor its branches, except 
for ceremonial purposes, and their most sacred form of oath 
is to swear by the name of Bura Deo, holding a branch of the 
sdj tree above the head. If Bura Deo was first the sdj tree, 
then we may surmise that when the Gonds discovered iron 
they held it more sacred than the tree because it was more 
important, as the material from which their axes and spears 
were made. And therefore Bura Deo became an iron chain 
hanging on the sdj tree. The axe is a Gond's most valuable 
implement, as with it he cut down the forest to clear a space 
for his shifting cultivation, and also provided himself with 
wood for hutting, fuel and other purposes. The axe and 
spear were also his weapons of war. Hence the discovery 

ii BURA DEO 103 

of iron was an enormous step forward in civilisation, and this 
may account for the reverence in which it is held by the 
Gonds. The metamorphosis of Bura Deo from an iron 
chain to an iron doll may perhaps be considered to mark 
the arrival of the Gonds at the stage of religion when 
anthropomorphic gods are worshipped. Bura Deo is some- 
times represented with Mahadeo or Siva and Parvati, two 
of the greatest Hindu deities, in attendance on him on each 
side. Communal sacrifices of pigs and also of goats are 
made to him at intervals of one or two years ; the animals 
are stretched out on their backs and killed by driving a 
stake of saj or tendu 1 wood through the belly. Sometimes 
a goat is dedicated to him a year beforehand, and allowed 
to wander loose in the village in the name of Bura Deo, and 
given good food, and even called by the name of the god. 
It would appear that the original sacrificial animal was the 
pig, and the goat was afterwards added or substituted. 
Bura Deo is also worshipped on special occasions, as when 
a man has got vermin in a wound, or, as the people of the 
country say, when god has remembered him. In this case 
the sufferer must pay all the expenses of the ceremony 
which is necessary for his purification. The dead are also 
mingled in Bura Deo, as described in the section on funeral 
rites. Bura Deo is believed to protect the Gonds from 
wild animals ; and if members of a family meet a tiger, snake 
or other dangerous animal several times within a fairly 
short period, they think that Bura Deo is displeased with 
them and have a special sacrifice in his honour. Ordinarily 
when the Panda or priest sacrifices an animal he severs its 
head with an axe and holds the head over the image or 
symbol of the god to allow the blood to drop on it. ' Before 
sacrificing a chicken he places some grain before it and says, 
' If I have committed no fault, eat,' and if the chicken does 
not eat of itself he usually forces it to pick a grain. Then 
he says that the sacrifice is acceptable to the god. 

When they think a child has been overlooked they fetch 46. Charms 
a strip of leather from the Chamar's house, make it into a ai 
little bag, fill it with scrapings from a clean bit of leather, 
and hang it round the child's neck. If a child is ill they 

1 Diospyros tomentosa. 

Io4 GOND part 

sometimes fetch from the Chamar's house water which has 
been used for tanning and give it him to drink. If a man 
is possessed by an evil spirit, they will take some coins, 
silver for preference, and wave them round his head with 
a lamp, and take them out and bury them in a waste place. 
They throw one or two more rupees on the surface of the 
soil in which they have buried the coins. Then they think 
the spirit will leave the sufferer, and if any one picks up 
the coins on the surface of the ground the spirit will possess 
him. Hindus who find such buried coins frequently refuse 
to take them, even though they may be valuable, from fear 
of being possessed by the spirit. Occasionally a man of 
a treacherous disposition may transfer an evil spirit, which is 
haunting him, with a daughter in marriage. The husband's 
family suspect this if a spirit begins to trouble them. A 
Vaddai or magician is called, and he tries to transfer the 
spirit to a fowl or goat by giving the latter some rice to eat. 
If the spirit then ceases troubling they conclude that it was 
transferred by the bride's father, and go to him and reproach 
him. If he admits that he had a spirit in his family which 
has given no trouble lately, they ask him to take it back, 
even though he may not have intended its transfer. The 
goat or fowl to which the spirit was transferred is then 
sacrificed in its name and the meat is eaten only by the 
father-in-law's family, to whom the spirit thus returns. A 
miniature hut is built for the spirit in his yard, and a pot, 
a lamp and a knife are placed in the hut for its use, and an 
offering of a goat is made to the spirit occasionally at festivals. 
In order to injure an enemy they will make an image 
of him in clay, preferably taken from underneath his foot- 
print, and carry it to the cemetery. Here they offer red 
lead, red thread, bangles, and various kinds of grain and 
pulse to the ghosts and say to them, " Male and female 
deities, old and newly buried, maimed -and lame, spirits of 
the wind, I pronounce this charm with your help." Then 
they pierce the figure with arrows in the chest and cut it 
with a knife in the region of the liver and think that their 
enemy will die. Another method is to draw the likeness 
of an enemy on cloth with lime or charcoal, and bury it in 
a pot in front of his house on a Sunday or Tuesday night 

ii OMENS 105 

so that he may walk on it in the morning, when they hope 
that the same result will be achieved. 

In order to breed a quarrel in an enemy's house they 
get the feathers of a crow, or the seeds of the amaltas} or 
porcupine needles, and after smoking them over a fire in 
which some nails have been placed, tie them to the eaves 
of his house, repeating some charm. The seeds of the 
amaltas rattle in their pods in the wind, and hence it is 
supposed that they will produce a noise of quarrelling. 
Porcupine's quills are sharp and prickly, and crow's feathers 
are perhaps efficacious because the crow is supposed to be 
a talkative and quarrelsome bird. The nails in the fire, 
being sharp-pointed, may be meant to add potency to the 
charm. One who wishes to transfer sickness to another 
person obtains a cloth belonging to the latter and draws 
two human figures on it, one right side up and the other 
upside down, in lamp-black. After saying charms over the 
cloth he puts it back surreptitiously in the owner's house. 
When people are ill they make a vow to some god that if 
they recover they will sacrifice a certain number of animals 
proportionate to the severity of the illness. If the patient 
then recovers, and the vow is for a larger number of animals 
than he can afford, he sets fire to a piece of forest so that 
a number of animals may be burnt as an offering to the god, 
and his vow may thus be fulfilled. This practice has no 
doubt gone out owing to the conservation of forests. 

If a Gond, when starting on a journey in the morning, 47. Omens, 
should meet a tiger, cat, hare, or a four-horned deer, he will 
return and postpone his journey ; but if he meets one of 
these animals when he is well on the way it is considered to 
be lucky. Rain falling at a wedding or some other festival 
is believed to be unlucky, as it is as if somebody were 
crying. In Mandla, if a cock crows in the night, a man will 
get up at once, catch it and twist its neck, and throw it over 
the house as far away as he can. Apparently the cock is 
supposed to be calling to evil spirits. If a hen cackles, or 
lays eggs at night, it is also considered inauspicious, and the 
bird is often killed or given away. They think they can 
acquire strength by carrying the shoulder-bones of a tiger 

1 Cassia fistula. 

io 6 GOND part 

on their shoulders or drinking a little of the bone-dust 
pounded in water. If there is disease in the village, the 
Bhumka or village priest performs the ceremony of Gaon 
bdndhna or tying up the village. Accompanied by a party 
of men he drives a pig all round the village boundary, 
scattering grains of urad pulse and mustard seed on the 
way. The pig is then sacrificed, its blood is sprinkled on 
all the village gods, and it is eaten by the party. No man 
or animal may go outside the village on the day of this 
ceremony, which should be performed on a Sunday or 
Wednesday. When cattle disease breaks out the Bhumka 
makes an arch of three poles, to which is hung a string of 
mango leaves, and all the cattle of the village are driven 
under it to avert the disease. 
48. Agri- When there is drought two boys put a pestle across their 

shoulders, tie a living frog to it with a rag, and go from house 

supersti- fc> fc> &> & ^ 

tions. to house accompanied by other boys and girls singing : 

Mendak Bhai ftani de, 
Dhan, kodon pakne de, 
Mere byah hone de, 

or ' Brother Frog give rain ; let the rice and kodon ripen ; 
let my marriage be held.' The frog is considered to be able 
to produce rain because it lives in water and therefore has 
control over its element. The boy's point in asking the frog 
to let his marriage be held is that if the rains failed and the 
crops withered, his parents would be unable to afford the 
expense. Another method of obtaining rain is for two 
naked women to go and harness themselves to a plough at 
night, while a third naked woman drives the plough and 
pricks them with a goad. This does not appear capable of 
explanation on any magical basis, so far as I know, and the 
idea may possibly be to force the clemency of the gods by 
showing their extraordinary sufferings, or to show that the 
world is topsy-turvy for want of rain. A leather rope is 
sometimes tied to a plough and harrow, and the boys and 
girls pull against one another on the rope in a tug-of-war. 
If the girls win they think that rain will soon come, but it 
the boys win that it will not. In order to stop excessive 
rain, a naked bachelor collects water from the eaves in a new 
earthen pot, covers the pot with a lid or with mud, and buries 


it beneath the earth ; or the pot may be rilled with salt. 
Here it may perhaps be supposed that, as the water dries up in 
the pot or the salt gets dry, so the rain will stop and the world 
generally become dry. The reason for employing women 
to produce rain, and men to stop it, may be that women, as 
they give milk, will be more potent in obtaining the other 
liquid, water. Nakedness is a common element in magic, 
perhaps because clothes are considered a civilised appanage, 
and unsuitable for a contest with the powers of nature ; a 
certain idea of impurity may also attach to them. If a crow 
in carrying a straw to build its nest holds it in the middle, 
they think that the rains will be normal and adequate ; but 
if the straw is held towards one end, that the rains will be 
excessive or deficient. If the titahri or sandpiper lays four 
eggs properly arranged, they think that sufficient rain will 
fall in all the four monsoon months. If only one, two or 
three eggs are laid, or only this number properly placed in 
the nest and the others at the side, then the rains will be 
good only in an equivalent number of months. 

At the beginning of the harvest they pluck an ear of corn 
and say, ' Whatever god is the guardian of this place, this is 
your share, take it, and do not interfere.' The last plants 
in the field are cut and sent home by a little girl and put at 
the bottom of the grain-bin of the house. Chitkuar Devi is 
the goddess of the threshing-floor, and before beginning to 
winnow the grain they sacrifice a pig and a chicken to her, 
cutting the throats of the animals and letting their blood 
drop on to the central post of the threshing-floor. When 
they are about to take the kodon home, they set aside a 
basketful and give it to the sister's son or sister's husband 
of the owner, placing a bottle of liquor on the top, and he 
takes it home to the house, and there they drink one or 
two bottles of liquor, and then begin eating the new grain. 

In Mandla the Gonds still perform, or did till recently, 49- Magi- 
various magical or religious rites to obtain success in fishing re iig ious 
and hunting. The men of a village were accustomed to go observ- 
out fishing as a communal act. They arrived at the river fishing and 
before sunrise, and at midday their women brought them hunting. 
pej or gruel. On returning the women made a mound or 
platform before the house of the principal man of the party. 

io8 GOND part 

All the fish caught were afterwards laid on this platform and 
the leader then divided them, leaving one piece on the 
platform. Next morning this piece was taken away and 
placed on the grave of the leader's ancestor. If no fish were 
caught on the first day, then on the next day the women 
took the men no food. And if they caught no fish for two 
or three days running, they went and dug up the platform 
erected in front of the leader's house and levelled it with the 
ground. Then the next morning early all the people of the 
village went to another village and danced the Sela dance 
before the tombs of the ancestors of that village. Some- 
times they went on to a third village and did the same. 
The headman of the village visited levied a contribution 
from his people, and gave them food and drink and a present 
of Rs. 1-4. With this they bought liquor, and coming back 
to their own village, offered it in front of the platform which 
they had levelled, and drank it. Next morning they went 
fishing again, but said that they did not care whether they 
caught anything or not, as they had pleased their god. 
Next year all the people of the village they had visited 
would come and dance the Sela dance at their village the 
whole day, and the hosts had to give the visitors food and 
drink. This was said to be from gratitude to the headman 
of the other village for placating their god with an offering 
of Rs. 1-4. And the visit might even be repeated annually 
so long as the headman of the other village was alive. 
Apparently in this elaborate ritual the platform especially 
represented the forefathers of the village, whose spirits were 
supposed to give success in fishing. If the fishers were 
unsuccessful, they demolished the platform to show their 
displeasure to the spirits, and went and danced before the 
ancestors of another village to intimate the transfer of their 
allegiance from their own ancestors to these latter. The 
ancestors would thus feel themselves properly snubbed and 
discarded for their ill-nature in not giving success to the 
fishing party. But when they had been in this condition 
for a day or so the headman of the other village sent them 
an offering of liquor, and it was thus intimated to them that, 
though their own descendants had temporarily transferred 
their devotion, they were not entirely abandoned. It would 


be hoped that the ancestors would lay the lesson to heart, 
and, placated by the liquor, be more careful in future of the 
welfare of their descendants. The season for fishing was 
in Kunwar and Kartik, and it sometimes extended into 
Aghan (September to November). During these months, 
from the time the new kodon was cut at the beginning- 
of the period, they danced the Sela, and they did not 
dance this dance at any other time of the year. 1 At 
other seasons they would dance the Karma. The Sela 
dance is danced by men alone ; they have sticks and form 
two circles, and walk in and out in opposite directions, 
beating their sticks together as they pass. Sometimes 
other men sit on the shoulders of the dancers and beat their 
sticks. Sela is said to be the name of the stick. In the 
Sela dance the singing is in the form of Dadaria, that is, one 
party recites a line and the other party replies ; this is not 
done in the Karma dance, for which they have regular songs. 
It seems possible that the Sela dance was originally a mimic 
combat, danced before they went out to fight in order to 
give them success in the battle. Subsequently it might be 
danced before they went out hunting and fishing with the 
same object. If there was no stream to which they could 
go fishing they would buy some fish and offer it to the god, 
and have a holiday and eat it, or if they could not go fishing 
they might go hunting in a party instead. When a single 
Gond intends to go out hunting in the forest he first lights a 
lamp before his household god in the house, or if he has no 
oil he will kindle a fire, and the lamp or fire must be kept 
burning all the time he is out. If he returns successful he 
offers a chicken to the god and extinguishes the lamp. But 
if he is unsuccessful he keeps the lamp burning all night, and 
goes out again early next morning. If he gets more game 
this time he will offer the chicken, but if not he will extin- 
guish the lamp, put his gun outside and not touch it again 
for eight days. A Gond never takes food in the morning 
before going out hunting, but goes out in a fasting condition 
perhaps in order that the god, seeing his hunger, may send 

1 This is incorrect, at present at probable that the ritual observances 
any rate, as the Karma is danced for communal fishing and hunting have 
during the harvest period. But it is now fallen into abeyance. 



him some game to eat. Nor will a Gond visit his wife the 
night before he goes out hunting. When a Baiga goes out 
hunting he bangs his liquor-gourd on the ground before his 
household god and vows that, if successful, he will offer to 
the o-od the gourd full of liquor and a chicken. But if he 
returns empty-handed, instead of doing this he fills the gourd 
with earth and throws it over the god to show his wrath. 
Then if he is successful on the next day, he will scrape off the 
earth and offer the liquor and chicken as promised. A 
Baiga should worship his god and go out hunting at the 
new moon, and then he will hunt the whole month. But if 
he has not worshipped his god at the new moon, and still 
goes out hunting and is unsuccessful, he will hunt no more 
that month. Some Gonds before they go hunting draw an 
image of Mahablr or Hanuman, the monkey god and the 
god of strength, on their guns, and rub it out when they get 
home again. 

50. Witch- The belief in witchcraft has been till recently in full 

force and vigour among the Gonds, and is only now showing 
symptoms of decline. In 1871 Sir C. Grant wrote: 1 "The 
wild hill country from Mandla to the eastern coast is believed 
to be so infested by witches that at one time no prudent 
father would let his daughter marry into a family which 
did not include among its members at least one of the 
dangerous sisterhood. The non-Aryan belief in the power 
of evil here strikes a ready chord in the minds of their 
conquerors, attuned to dread by the inhospitable appearance 
of the country and the terrible effect of its malicious in- 
fluences upon human life. In the wilds of Mandla there are 
many deep hillside caves which not even the most intrepid 
Baiga hunter would approach for fear of attracting upon 
himself the wrath of their demoniac inhabitants ; and where 
these hillmen, who are regarded both by themselves and by 
others as ministers between men and spirits, are afraid, the 
sleek cultivator of the plains must feel absolute repulsion. 
Then the suddenness of the epidemics to which, whether from 
deficient water-supply or other causes, Central India seems 
so subject, is another fruitful source of terror among an 
ignorant people. When cholera breaks out in a wild part 

1 C. P. Gazetteer (1871), Introduction, p. 130. 


of the country it creates a perfect stampede — villages, roads, 
and all works in progress are deserted ; even the sick are 
abandoned by their nearest relations to die, and crowds fly 
to the jungles, there to starve on fruits and berries till the 
panic has passed off. The only consideration for which their 
minds have room at such times is the punishment of the 
offenders, for the ravages caused by the disease are un- 
hesitatingly set down to human malice. The police records 
of the Central Provinces unfortunately contain too many sad 
instances of life thus sacrificed to a mad unreasoning terror." 
The detection of a witch by the agency of the corpse, when 
the death is believed to have been caused by witchcraft, has 
been described in the section on funeral rites. In other 
cases a lamp was lighted and the names of the suspected 
persons repeated ; the flicker of the lamp at any name was 
held to indicate the witch. Two leaves were thrown on the 
outstretched hand of a suspected person, and if the leaf 
representing her or him fell above the other suspicion was 
deepened. In Bastar the leaf ordeal was followed by sewing 
the person accused into a sack and letting her down into 
shallow water ; if she managed in her struggles for life to 
raise her head above water she was finally adjudged to be 
guilty. A witch was beaten with rods of the tamarind or 
castor-oil plants, which were supposed to be of peculiar 
efficacy in such cases ; her head was shaved cross-wise from 
one ear to the other over the head and down to the neck ; her 
teeth were sometimes knocked out, perhaps to prevent her 
from doing mischief if she should assume the form of a tiger 
or other wild animal ; she was usually obliged to leave the 
village, and often murdered. Murder for witchcraft is now 
comparatively rare as it is too often followed by detection 
and proper punishment. But the belief in the causation of 
epidemic disease by personal agency is only slowly declining. 
Such measures as the disinfection of wells by permanganate of 
potash during a visitation of cholera, or inoculation against 
plague, are sometimes considered as attempts on the part of 
the Government to reduce the population. When the first 
epidemic of plague broke out in Mandla in 191 1 it caused a 
panic among the Gonds, who threatened to attack with their 
axes any Government officer who should come to their village, 


in the belief that all of them must be plague-inoculators. In 
the course of six months, however, the feeling of panic died 
down under a system of instruction by schoolmasters and 
other local officials and by circulars ; and by the end of the 
period the Gonds began to offer themselves voluntarily for 
inoculation, and would probably have come to do so in fairly 
large numbers if the epidemic had not subsided. 
Si. Human The Gonds were formerly accustomed to offer human 

sacrifice. 1 sacr ifi ces> especially to the goddess Kali and to the goddess 
Danteshwari, the tutelary deity of the Rajas of Bastar. Her 
shrine was at a place called Dcmtewara, and she was probably 
at first a local goddess and afterwards identified with the 
Hindu goddess Kali. An inscription recently found in Bastar 
records the grant of a village to a Medipota in order to 
secure the welfare of the people and their cattle. This 
man was the head of a community whose business it was, 
in return for the grants of land which they enjoyed, to 
supply victims for human sacrifice either from their own 
families or elsewhere. Tradition states that on one occa- 
sion as many as 101 persons were sacrificed to avert 
some great calamity which had befallen the country. And 
sacrifices also took place when the Raja visited the temple. 
During the period of the Bhonsla rule early in the nineteenth 
century the Raja of Bastar was said to have immolated 
twenty-five men before he set out to visit the Raja of Nagpur 
at his capital. This would no doubt be as an offering for 
his safety, and the lives of the victims were given as a sub- 
stitute for his own. A guard was afterwards placed on the 
temple by the Marathas, but reports show that human 
sacrifice was not finally stamped out until the Nagpur 
territories lapsed to the British in 1853. At Chanda and 
Lanji also, Mr. Hislop states, human sacrifices were offered 
until well into the nineteenth century 2 at the temples of 
Kali. The victim was taken to the temple after sunset and 
shut up within its dismal walls. In the morning, when the 
door was opened, he was found dead, much to the glory of 
the great goddess, who had shown her power by coming 
during the night and sucking his blood. No doubt there 

1 This section contains some information furnished by R. B. Hira Lai. 
2 Notes on the Gonds, pp. 15, 16. 

1 1 HUM A N SA CRIFICE 1 1 3 

must have been some of her servants hid in the fane whose 
business it was to prepare the horrid banquet. It is said 
that an iron plate was afterwards put over the face of the 
goddess to prevent her from eating up the persons going 
before her. In Chanda the legend tells that the families 
of the town had each in turn to supply a victim to the 
goddess. One day a mother was weeping bitterly because 
her only son was to be taken as the victim, when an Ahlr 
passed by, and on learning the cause of her sorrow offered 
to go instead. He took with him the rope of hair with 
which the Ahirs tie the legs of their cows when milking 
them and made a noose out of it. When the goddess came 
up to him he threw the noose over her neck and drew it 
tight like a Thug. The goddess begged him to let her go, 
and he agreed to do so on condition that she asked for no more 
human victims. No doubt, if the legend has any foundation, 
the Ahlr found a human neck within his noose. It has 
been suggested in the article on Thug that the goddess 
Kali is really the deified tiger, and if this were so her 
craving for human sacrifices is readily understood. All the 
three places mentioned, Dante wara, Lanji and Chanda, are 
in a territory where tigers are still numerous, and certain 
points in the above legends favour the idea of this animal 
origin of the goddess. Such are the shutting of the victim 
in the temple at night as an animal is tied up for a tiger- 
kill, and the closing of her mouth with an iron plate as the 
mouths of tigers are sometimes supposed to be closed by 
magic. Similarly it may perhaps be believed that the Raja 
of Bastar offered human sacrifices to protect himself and his 
party from the attacks of tigers, which would be the principal 
danger on a journey to Nagpur. In Mandla there is a 
tradition that a Brahman boy was formerly sacrificed at 
intervals to the god Bura Deo, and the forehead of the god 
was marked with his hair in place of sandalwood, and the 
god bathed in his blood and used his bones as sticks for 
playing at ball. Similarly in Bindranawagarh in Raipur the 
Gonds are said to have entrapped strangers and offered them 
to their gods, and if possible a Brahman was obtained as the 
most suitable offering. These legends indicate the traditional 
hostility of the Gonds to the Hindus, and especially to the 
VOL. Ill I 

H4 GOND part 

Brahmans, by whom they were at one time much oppressed 
and ousted from their lands. According to tradition, a Gond 
Raja of Garha-Mandla, Madhkur Shah, had treacherously 
put his elder brother to death. Divine vengeance over- 
took him and he became afflicted with chronic pains in 
the head. No treatment was of avail, and he was finally 
advised that the only means of appeasing a justly incensed 
deity was to offer his own life. He determined to be burnt 
inside the trunk of the sacred pipal tree, and a hollow trunk 
sufficiently dry for the purpose having been found at Deogarh, 
twelve miles from Mandla, h^ shut himself up in it and was 
burnt to death. The story is interesting as showing how 
the neurotic or other pains, which are the result of remorse 
for a crime, are ascribed to the vengeance of a divine 
52. Canni- Mr. Wilson quotes 1 an account, written by Lieutenant 

bah'sm. Prendergast in 1820, in which he states that he had dis- 
covered a tribe of Gonds who were cannibals, but ate only 
their own relations. The account was as follows : " In May 
1820 I visited the hills of Amarkantak, and having heard 
that a particular tribe of Gonds who lived in the hills were 
cannibals, I made the most particular inquiries assisted by 
my clerk Mohan Singh, an intelligent and well-informed 
Kayasth. We learned after much trouble that there was 
a tribe of Gonds who resided in the hills of Amarkantak and 
to the south-east in the Gondwana country, who held very 
little intercourse with the villagers and never went among 
them except to barter or purchase provisions. This race 
live in detached parties and seldom have more than eight or 
ten huts in one place. They are cannibals in the real 
sense of the word, but never eat the flesh of any person not 
belonging to their own family or tribe ; nor do they do this 
except on particular occasions. It is the custom of this 
singular people to cut the throat of any person of their 
family who is attacked by severe illness and who they think 
has no chance of recovering, when they collect the whole of 
their relations and friends, and feast upon the body. In 
like manner when a person arrives at a great age and 
becomes feeble and weak, the Halalkhor operates upon him, 

1 Indian Caste, i. p. 325. 

Bemrose, Cotlo., Der/y. 


when the different members of the family assemble for the 
same purpose as above stated. In other respects this is a 
simple race of people, nor do they consider cutting the 
throats of their sick relations or aged parents any sin ; but 
on the contrary an act acceptable to Kali, a blessing to their 
relatives, and a mercy to their whole race." 

It may be noted that the account is based on hearsay 
only, and such stories are often circulated about savage 
races. But if correct, it would indicate probably only a 
ritual form of cannibalism. The idea of the Gonds in eating 
the bodies of their relatives would be to assimilate the lives 
of these as it were, and cause them to be reborn as children 
in their own families. Possibly they ate the bodies of their 
parents, as many races ate the bodies of animal gods, in 
order to obtain their divine virtues and qualities. No 
corroboration of this custom is known in respect of the 
Gonds, but Colonel Dalton records 1 a somewhat similar 
story of the small Birhor tribe who live in the Chota 
Nagpur hills not far from Amarkantak, and it has been seen 
that the Bhunjias of Bilaspur eat small portions of the bodies 
of their dead relatives. 2 

The original Gond festivals were associated with the 53 . Festi- 
first eating of the new crops and fruits. In Chait (March) vals- The 

. . K ' new crops. 

a festival called Chaitrai is observed in Bastar. A pig or 
fowl with some liquor is offered to the village god, and the 
new urad and semi beans of the year's crop are placed before 
him uncooked. The people dance and sing the whole night 
and begin eating the new pulse and beans. In Bhadon 
(August) is the Nawakhai or eating of the new rice. The 
old and new grain is mixed and offered raw to the ancestors, 
a goat is sacrificed, and they begin to eat the new crop of 
rice. Similarly when the mahua flowers, from which country 
spirit is made, first appear, they proceed to the forest and 
worship under a saj tree. 

Before sowing rice or millet they have a rite called 
Bljphutni or breaking the seed. Some grain, fowls and a 
pig are collected from the villagers by subscription. The 
grain is offered to the god and then distributed to all the 
villagers, who sow it in their fields for luck. 

1 See article Birhor. 2 See article Bhunjia. 

n6 GOND part 

54 . The The Holi festival, which corresponds to the Carnival, 

Holi being held in spring at the end of the Hindu year, is 

observed by Gonds as well as Hindus. In Bilaspur a Gond 
or Baiga, as representing the oldest residents, is always 
employed to light the Holi fire. Sometimes it is kindled in 
the ancient manner by the friction of two pieces of wood. 
In Mandla, at the Holi, the Gonds fetch a green branch of 
the semar or cotton tree and plant it in a little hole, in 
which they put also a pice (farthing) and an egg. They 
place fuel round and burn up the branch. Then next day 
they take out the egg and give it to a dog to eat and say 
that this will make the dog as swift as fire. They choose a 
dog whom they wish to train for hunting. They bring the 
ploughshare from the house and heat it red-hot in the Holi 
fire and take it back. They say that this wakes up the 
ploughshare, which has fallen asleep from rusting in the 
house, and makes it sharp for ploughing. Perhaps when 
rust appears on the metal they think this a sign of its 
being asleep. They plough for the first time on a Monday 
or Wednesday and drive three furrows when nobody is 
ss . The In the western Districts on one of the five days following 

Meghnath ^he Holi the swinging rite is performed. For this they 

swinging o o r • 

rite. bring a straight teak or saj tree from the forest, as long as 

can be obtained, and cut from a place where two trees are 
growing together. The Bhumka or village priest is shown in 
a dream where to cut the tree. It is set up in a hole seven 
feet deep, a quantity of salt being placed beneath it. The 
hole is coloured with geru or red ochre, and offerings of 
goats, sheep and chickens are made to it by people who 
have vowed them in sickness. A cross-bar is fixed on to 
the top of the pole in a socket and the Bhumka is tied to 
one end of the cross-bar. A rope is attached to the other 
end and the people take hold of this and drag the Bhumka 
round in the air five times. When this has been done the 
village proprietor gives him a present of a cocoanut, and 
head- and body-clothes. If the pole falls down it is considered 
that some great misfortune, such as an epidemic, will ensue. 
The pole and ritual are now called Meghnath. Meghnath 
is held to have been the son of Rawan, the demon king of 

Bemrosc, Collo., Derby. 



Ceylon, from whom the Gonds are supposed by the Hindus 
to be descended, as they are called Rawanvansi, or of the 
race of Rawan. After this they set up another pole, which is 
known as Jheri, and make it slippery with oil, butter and 
other things. A little bag containing Rs. 1-4 and also a 
seer (2 lbs.) of gill or butter are tied to the top, and the men 
try to climb the pole and get these as a prize. The women 
assemble and beat the men with sticks as they are climbing 
to prevent them from doing so. If no man succeeds in 
climbing the pole and getting the reward, it is given to the 
women. This seems to be a parody of the first or Meghnath 
rite, and both probably have some connection with the 
growth of the crops. 

During Bhadon (August), in the rains, the Gonds bring a 56. The 
branch of the kalmi or of the Juxldu tree from the forest and an ^™her 
wrap it up in new cloth and keep it in their houses. They rites. 
have a feast and the musicians play, and men and women 
dance round the branch singing songs, of which the theme 
is often sexual. The dance is called Karma and is the 
principal dance of the Gonds, and they repeat it at intervals 
all through the cold weather, considering it as their great 
amusement. A further notice of it is given in the section on 
social customs. The dance is apparently named after the 
tree,' though it is not known whether the same tree is always 
selected. Many deciduous trees in India shed their leaves 
in the hot weather and renew them in the rains, so that this 
season is partly one of the renewal of vegetation as well as 
of the growth of crops. 

In Kunwar (September) the Gond girls take an earthen 
pot, pierce it with holes, and put a lamp inside and also the 
image of a dove, and go round from house to house singing 
and dancing, led by a girl carrying the pot on her head. 
They collect contributions and have a feast. In Chhattisgarh 
among the Gonds and Rawats (Ahlrs) there is from time to 
time a kind of feminist movement, which is called the 
Stiria-Raj or kingdom of women. The women pretend to 
be soldiers, seize all the weapons, axes and spears that they 
can get hold of, and march in a body from village to village. 
At each village they kill a goat and send its head to another 
village, and then the women of that village come and join 

,i8 GOND part 

them. During this time they leave their hair unbound and 
think that they are establishing the kingdom of women. 
After some months the movement subsides, and it is said to 
occur at irregular intervals with a number of years between 
each. The women are commonly considered to be out of 
their senses. 

(g) Appearance and Character, and Social 
Rules and Customs 

57. Physi- Hislop describes the Gonds as follows : 1 " All are a little 

cai type. De i ow the average size of Europeans and in complexion 
darker than the generality of Hindus. Their bodies are 
well proportioned, but their features rather ugly. They have 
a roundish head, distended nostrils, wide mouth, thickish lips, 
straight black hair and scanty beard and moustache. It has 
been supposed that some of the aborigines of Central India 
have woolly hair ; but this is a mistake. Among the 
thousands I have seen I have not found one with hair like 
a negro." Captain Forsyth says : 2 " The Gond women 
differ among themselves more than the men. They are 
somewhat lighter in colour and less fleshy than Korku 
women. But the Gond women of different parts of the 
country vary greatly in appearance, many of them in the 
open tracts being great robust creatures, finer animals by far 
than the men ; and here Hindu blood may fairly be expected. 
In the interior again bevies of Gond women may be seen 
who are more like monkeys than human beings. The 
features of all are strongly marked and coarse. The girls 
occasionally possess such comeliness as attaches to general 
plumpness and a good-humoured expression of face ; but 
when their short youth is over all pass at once into a hideous 
age. Their hard lives, sharing as they do all the labours of 
the men except that of hunting, suffice to account for this." 
There is not the least doubt that the Gonds of the more open 
and civilised country, comprised in British Districts, have a 
large admixture of Hindu blood. They commonly work as 
farmservants, women as well as men, and illicit connections 
with their Hindu masters have been a natural result. This 

1 Notes, p. 1. 2 Highlands of Central India, p. 156. 


Bemrose, Colin., Derby, 


interbreeding, as well as the better quality of food which 
those who have taken to regular cultivation obtain, have 
perhaps conduced to improve the Gond physical type. Gond 
men as tall as Hindus, and more strongly built and with 
comparatively well -cut features, are now frequently seen, 
though the broad fiat nose is still characteristic of the tribe 
as a whole. Most Gonds have very little hair on the face. 

Of the Maria Gonds, Colonel Glasfurd wrote : that " They s 8 - Char- 
are a timid, quiet race, docile, and though addicted to drink- 
ing they are not quarrelsome. Without exception they are 
the most cheerful, light-hearted people I have met with, 
always laughing and joking among themselves. Seldom 
does a Maria village resound with quarrels or wrangling 
among either sex, and in this respect they present a marked 
contrast to those in more civilised tracts. They, in common 
with many other wild races, bear a singular character for 
truthfulness and honesty, and when once they get over the 
feeling of shyness which is natural to them, are exceedingly 
frank and communicative." Writing in 1825 Sleeman said : 
" Such is the simplicity and honesty of character of the wildest 
of these Gonds that when they have agreed to a jama 2 they 
will pay it, though they sell their children to do so, and will 
also pay it at the precise time that they agreed to. They 
are dishonest only in direct theft, and few of them will refuse 
to take another man's property when a fair occasion offers, 
but they will immediately acknowledge it." 3 The more 
civilised Gonds retain these characteristics to a large extent, 
though contact with the Hindus and the increased complexity 
of life have rendered them less guileless. Murder is a com- 
paratively frequent crime among Gonds, and is usually due 
either to some quarrel about a woman or to a drunken affray. 
The kidnapping of girls for marriage is also common, though 
hardly reckoned as an offence by the Gonds themselves. 
Otherwise crime is extremely rare in Gond villages as a rule. 
As farmservants the Gonds are esteemed fairly honest and 
hardworking ; but unless well driven they are constitutionally 
averse to labour, and care nothing about provision for the 

1 Report on Bastar Dependency, 3 Quoted in C.P. Gazetteer (1871), 
p. 41. Introduction, p. 113. 

2 Assessment of revenue for land. 


future. The proverb says, ' The Gond considers himself a 
king as long as he has a pot of grain in the house,' meaning 
that while he has food for a day or two he will not work for 
any more. During the hot weather the Gonds go about in 
parties and pay visits to their relatives, staying with them 
several days, and the time is spent simply in eating, drinking 
when liquor is available, and conversation. The visitors take 
presents of grain and pulse with them and these go to aug- 
ment the host's resources. The latter will kill a chicken or, 
as a great treat, a young pig. Mr. Montgomerie writes of 
the Gonds as follows •} " They are a pleasant people, and 
leave kindly memories in those who have to do with them. 
Comparatively truthful, always ready for a laugh, familiar 
with the paths and animals and fruits of the forest, lazy 
cultivators on their own account but good farmservants 
under supervision, the broad-nosed Gonds are the fit inhabit- 
ants of the hilly and jungly tracts in which they are found. 
With a marigold tucked into his hair above his left ear, with 
an axe in his hand and a grin on his face, the Gond turns 
out cheerfully to beat for game, and at the end of the day 
spends his beating pay on liquor for himself or on sweetmeats 
for his children. He may, in the previous year, have been 
subsisting largely on jungle fruits and roots because his 
harvest failed, but he does not dream of investing his modest 
beating pay in grain." 

In the wilder tracts the Gonds were, until recently, 
extremely shy of strangers, and would fly at their approach. 
Their tribute to the Raja of Bastar, paid in kind, was collected 
once a year by an officer who beat a tom-tom outside the 
village and forthwith hid himself, whereupon the inhabitants 
brought out whatever they had to give and deposited it on 
an appointed spot. Colonel Glasfurd notes that they had 
great fear of a horse, and the sight of a man on horseback 
would put a whole village to flight. 2 Even within the writer's 
experience, in the wilder forest tracts of Chanda Gond women 
picking up mahua would run and climb a tree at one's 
approach on a pony. As displaying the ignorance of the 
Gonds, Mr. Cain relates 3 that about forty years ago a Gond 

1 Chhlndwara Settlement Report. p. 43. 

2 Report on Bastar Dependency, 3 Ind. Ant. (1876), p. 359. 

and itmor- 


was sent with a basket of mangoes from Palvatsa to Bhadra- 
chalam, and was warned not to eat any of the fruit, as it 
would be known if he did so from a note placed in the basket. 
On the way, however, the Gond and his companion were 
overcome by the attraction of the fruit, and decided that if 
they buried the note it would be unable to see them eating. 
They accordingly did so and ate some of the mangoes, and 
when taxed with their dishonesty at the journey's end, could 
not understand how the note could have known of their eating 
the mangoes when it had not seen them. 

The Gonds can now count up to twenty, and beyond 
that they use the word kori or a score, in talking of cattle, 
grain or rupees, so that this, perhaps, takes them up to twenty 
score. They say they learnt to count up to twenty on their 
ten fingers and ten toes. 

When residing in the centre of a Hindu population the 60. Vil- 
Gonds inhabit mud houses, like the low-class Hindus. But ! a§es and 


in the jungles their huts are of bamboo matting plastered 
with mud, with thatched roofs. The internal arrangements 
are of the simplest kind, comprising two apartments separated 
from each other by a row of tall baskets, in which they store 
up their grain. Adjoining the house is a shed for cattle, and 
round both a bamboo fence for protection from wild beasts. 
In Bastar the walls of the hut are only four or five feet high, 
and the door three feet. Here there are one or two sheds, in 
which all the villagers store their grain in common, and no 
man steals another's grain. In Gond villages the houses are 
seen perched about on little bluffs or other high ground, over- 
looking the fields, one, two and three together. The Gond 
does not like to live in a street. He likes a large bari or 
fenced enclosure, about an acre in size, besides his house. 
In this he will grow mustard for sale, or his own annual 
supply of tobacco or vegetables. He arranges that the 
village cattle shall come and stand in the bari on their 
way to and from pasture, and that the cows shall be milked 
there for some time. His family also perform natural 
functions in it, which the Hindus will not do in their fields. 
Thus the bari gets well manured and will easily give two crops 
in the year, and the Gond sets great store by this field. When 
building a new house a man plants as the first post a pole 

and orna 


of the saj tree, and ties a bundle of thatching-grass round it, 
and buries a pice (^d.) and a bhilawa nut beneath it. They 
feed two or three friends and scatter a little of the food over 
the post. The post is called Khirkhut Deo, and protects the 
house from harm. 

A brass or pewter dish and lota or drinking-vessel of the 
same material, a few earthen cooking-pots, a hatchet and a 
clay chilam or pipe-bowl comprise the furniture of a Gond. 
61. Clothes In Sir R. Jenkins' time, a century ago, the Gonds were 

represented as naked savages, living on roots and fruits, and 
hunting for strangers to sacrifice. About fifty years later, 
when Mr. Hislop wrote, the Maria women of the wilder tracts 
were said only to have a bundle of leafy twigs fastened with 
a string round their waist to cover them before and behind. 
Now men have a narrow strip of cloth round the waist and 
women a broader one, but in the south of Bastar they still 
leave their breasts uncovered. Here a woman covers her 
breasts for the first time when she becomes pregnant, and if 
a young woman did it, she would be thought to be big with 
child. In other localities men and women clothe themselves 
more like Hindus, but the women leave the greater part of 
the thighs bare, and men often have only one cloth round 
the loins and another small rag on the head. They have 
bangles of glass, brass and zinc, and large circlets of brass 
round the legs, though these are now being discarded. In 
Bastar both men and women have ten to twenty iron and 
brass hoops round their necks, and on to these rings of 
the same metal are strung. Rai Bahadur Panda Baijnath 
counted 181 rings on one hoop round an old woman's 
neck. In the Maria country the boys have small separate 
plots of land, which they cultivate themselves and use the 
proceeds as their pocket-money, and this enables them to 
indulge in a profusion of ornaments sometimes exceeding 
those worn by the girls. In Mandla women wear a number 
of strings of yellow and bluish -white beads. A married 
woman has both colours, and several cowries tied to the end 
of the necklace. Widows and girls may only wear the 
bluish-white beads without cowries, and a remarried widow 
may not have any yellow beads, but she can have one cowrie 
on her necklace. Yellow beads are thus confined to married 


women, yellow being the common wedding- colour. A 
Gond woman is not allowed to wear a cJwli or little 
jacket over the breasts. If she does she is put out of 
caste. This rule may arise from opposition to the adoption 
of Hindu customs and desire to retain a distinctive feature of 
dress, or it may be thought that the adoption of the cJioli 
might make Gond women weaker and unfitted for hard 
manual labour, like Hindu women. A Gond woman must 
not keep her cloth tucked up behind into her waist when she 
meets an elderly man of her own family, but must let it 
down so as to cover the upper part of her legs. If she omits 
to do this, on the occasion of the next wedding the Bhumka 
or caste priest will send some men to catch her, and when 
she is brought the man to whom she was disrespectful will 
put his right hand on the ground and she must make obeisance 
to it seven times, then to his left hand, then to a broom and 
pestle, and so on till she is tired out. When they have a 
sprain or swelling of the arm they make a ring of tree-fibre 
and wear this on the arm, and think that it will cure the 
sprain or swelling. 

The ears of girls are pierced by a thorn, and the hole is 62. Ear- 
enlarged by putting in small pieces of wood or peacock's P iercin s- 
feathers. Gond women wear in their ears the tarkhiox a little 
slab in shape like a palm-leaf, covered with coloured glass and 
fixed on to a stalk of hemp-fibre nearly an inch thick, which 
goes through the ear ; or they wear the silver shield-shaped 
ornament called dhara, which is described in the article on 
Sunar. In Bastar the women have their ears pierced in a 
dozen or more places, and have a small ring in each hole. 
If a woman gets her ear torn through she is simply put out 
of caste and has to give a feast for readmission, and is not 
kept out of caste till it heals, like a Hindu woman. 

Gond men now cut their hair. Before scissors were 63. Hair, 
obtainable it is said that they used to tie it up on their heads 
and chop off the ends with an axe, or burn them off. But the 
wilder Gonds often wear their hair long, and as it is seldom 
combed it gets tangled and matted. The Pandas or priests 
do not cut their hair. Women wear braids of false hair, of 
goats or other animals, twisted into their own to improve their 
appearance. In Mandla a Gond girl should not have her hair 

I2 4 GOND part 

parted in the middle till she is married. When she is married 
this is done for the first time by the Baiga, who subsequently 
tattoos on her forehead the image of Chandi Mata. 1 

Gonds, both men and women, do not bathe daily, but 
only wash their arms and legs. They think a complete bath 
once a month is sufficient. If a man gets ill he may think 
the god is angry with him for not bathing, and when he 
recovers he goes and has a good bath, and sometimes gives 
a feast. Hindus say that a Gond is only clean in the rains, 
when he gets a compulsory bath every day. In Bastar they 
seldom wash their clothes, as they think this impious, or else 
that the cloth would wear out too quickly if it were often 
washed. Here they set great store by their piece of cloth, 
and a woman will take it off before she cleans up her house, 
and do her work naked. It is probable that these wild 
Gonds, who could not weave, regarded the cloth as some- 
thing miraculous and sacred, and, as already seen, the god 
Palo is a piece of cloth. 2 
65. Tattoo- Both men and women were formerly much tattooed 

among the Gonds, though the custom is now going out 
among men. Women are tattooed over a large part of the 
body, but not on the hips or above them to the waist. 
Sorcerers are tattooed with some image or symbol of their 
god on their chest or right shoulder, and think that the god 
will thus always remain with them and that any magic 
directed against them by an enemy will fail. A woman 
should be tattooed at her father's house, if possible before 
marriage, and if it is done after marriage her parents should 
pay for it. The tattooing is done with indigo in black or 
blue, and is sometimes a very painful process, the girl being 
held down by her friends while it is carried out. Loud 
shrieks, Forsyth says, would sometimes be heard by the 



traveller issuing from a village, which proclaimed that some 
young Gondin was being operated upon with the tattooing- 

1 See/rtra. 65, Tattooing. 2 See/ara. 41, Religion.. 


needle. Patterns of animals and also common articles of 
household use are tattooed in dots and lines. In Mandla 
the legs are marked all the way up behind with sets of parallel 
lines, as shown above. These are called ghats or steps, and 
sometimes interspersed at intervals is another figure called 
sankal or chain. Perhaps their idea is to make the legs 
strong for climbing. 

Tattooing seems to have been originally a magical means 66. Special 
of protecting the body against real and spiritual dangers, s - vstem of 
much in the same manner as the wearing of ornaments. It 
is also supposed that people were tattooed with images of 
their totem in order the better to identify themselves with it. 
The following account is stated to have been taken from the 
Baiga priest of a popular shrine of Devi in Mandla. His 
wife was a tattooer of both Baigas and Gonds, and considered 
it the correct method for the full tattooing of a woman, 
though very few women can nowadays be found with it. The 
magical intent of tattooing is here clearly brought out : — 

On the sole of the right foot is the annexed device : 

It represents the earth, and will have the effect of preventing 
the woman's foot from being bruised and cut when she walks 
about barefoot. 

On the sole of the left foot is this pattern : 

It is meant to be in the shape of a foot, and is called 
Padam Sen Deo or the Foot-god. This deity is represented 
by stones marked with two footprints under a tree outside 
the village. When they have a pain in the foot they go to 
him, rub his two stones together and sprinkle the dust from 
them on their feet as a means of cure. The device tattooed 
on the foot no doubt performs a similar protective function. 
On the upper part of the foot five dots are made, one on 
each toe, and a line is drawn round the foot from the big toe 
to the little toe. This sign is said to represent Gajkaran 

, 2 6 GOND part 

Deo, the elephant god, who resides in cemeteries. He is a 
strong god, and it is probably thought that his symbol on the 
feet will enable them to bear weight. On the legs behind 
they have the images of the Baiga priest and priestess. 
These are also supposed to give strength for labour, and when 
they cannot go into the forest from fever or weakness they 
say that Bura Deo, as the deified priest is called, is angry 
with them. On the upper legs in front they tattoo the 
image of a horse, and at the back a saddle between the knee 
and the thigh. This is Koda Deo the horse-god, whose 
image will make their thighs as strong as those of a horse. 
If they have a pain or weakness in the thigh they go and 
worship Koda Deo, offering him a piece of saddle-cloth. 
On the outer side of each upper arm they tattoo the image of 
Hanuman, the deified monkey and the god of strength, in 
the form of a man. Both men and women do this, and 
men apply burning cowdung to the tattoo-mark in order to 
burn it effectually into the arm. This god makes the arms 
strong to carry weights. Down the back is tattooed an 
oblong figure, which is the house of the god Bhimsen, with 
an opening at the lower end just above the buttocks to 
represent the gate. Inside this on the back is the image of 
Bhimsen's club, consisting of a pattern of dots more or less 
in the shape of an Indian club. Bhimsen is the god of the 
cooking -place, and the image of his club, in white clay 
stained green with the leaves of the semar tree, is made on 
the wall of the kitchen. If they have no food, or the food 
is bad, they say that Bhimsen is angry with them. The 
pattern tattooed on the back appears therefore to be meant 
to facilitate the digestion of food, which the Gonds apparently 
once supposed to pass down the body along the back. On 
the breast in front women tattoo the image of Bura Deo, as 
shown, the head on her neck and the body finishing at her 

breast-bone. The marks round the body represent stones, 
because the symbol of Bura Deo is sometimes a basket 

Bcmrose, t olio., Derby. 

ii BRANDING 127 

plastered with mud and rilled with stones. On each side of 
the body women have the image of Jhulan Devi, the cradle 
goddess, as shown by the small figures attached to Bura 
Deo. But a woman cannot have the image of Jhulan Devi 
tattooed on her till she has borne a child. The place where 
the image is tattooed is that where a child rests against its 
mother's body when she carries it suspended in her cloth, 
and it is supposed that the image of the goddess supports 
and protects the child, while the mother's arms are left free 
for work. 

Round the neck they have Kanteshwar Mata, the god- 
dess of the necklace. She consists of three to six lines of 
dots round the neck representing bead necklaces. 

On the face below the mouth there is sometimes the 
image of a cobra, and it is supposed that this will protect 
them from the effects of eating any poisonous thing. 

On the forehead women have the image of Chandi Mata. 
This consists of a dot at the forehead at the parting of the 
hair, from which two lines of dots run down to the ears on 
each side, and are continued along the sides of the face to 
the neck. This image can only be tattooed after the hair of 
a woman has been parted on her marriage, and they say that 
Chandi Mata will preserve and guard the parting of the hair, 
that is the life of the woman's husband, because the parting 
can only be worn so long as her husband is alive. Chandi 
means the moon, and it seems likely that the parting of the 
hair may be considered to represent the bow of the moon. 

The elaborate system of tattooing here described is rarely 
found, and it is perhaps comparatively recent, having been 
devised by the Baiga and Pardhan priests as their intelligence 
developed and their theogony became more complex. 

Men are accustomed to brand themselves on the joints 67. Brand- 
of the wrists, elbows and knees with burning wood of the ing- 
semar tree from the Holi fire in order to render their joints 
supple for dancing. It would appear that the idea of supple- 
ness comes from the dancing of the flames or the swift burn- 
ing of the fire, while the wood is also of very light weight. 
Men are also accustomed to burn two or three marks on 
each wrist with a piece of hare's dung, perhaps to make the 
joints supple like the legs of a hare. 


68. Food. The Gonds have scarcely any restriction on diet. They 

will eat fowls, beef, pork, crocodiles, certain kinds of snakes, 
lizards, tortoises, rats, cats, red ants, jackals and in some 
places monkeys. Khatola and Raj-Gonds usually abstain 
from beef and the flesh of the buffalo and monkey. They 
consider field-mice and rats a great delicacy, and will take 
much trouble in finding and digging out their holes. The 
Maria Gonds are very fond of red ants, and in Bastar give 
them fried or roasted to a woman during her confinement. 
The common food of the labouring Gond is a gruel of rice or 
small millet boiled in water, the quantity of water increasing 
in proportion to their poverty. This is about the cheapest 
kind of food on which a man can live, and the quantity 
of grain taken in the form of this gruel or pej which will 
suffice for a Gond's subsistence is astonishingly small. 
They grow the small grass-millets kodon and kutki for their 
subsistence, selling the more valuable crops for rent and 
expenses. The flowers of the mahua tree are also a staple 
article of diet, being largely eaten as well as made into 
liquor, and the Gond knows of many other roots and fruits 
of the forest. He likes to eat or drink his pej several times 
a day, and in Seoni, it is said, will not go more than three 
hours without a meal. 

Gonds are rather strict in the matter of taking food 
from others, and in some localities refuse to accept it even 
from Brahmans. Elsewhere they will take it from most 
Hindu castes. In Hoshangabad the men may take food 
from the higher Hindu castes, but not the women. This, 
they say, is because the woman is a wooden vessel, and if 
a wooden vessel is once put on the fire it is irretrievably 
burnt. A woman similarly is the weaker vessel and will 
sustain injury from any contamination. The Raj-Gond 
copies Hindu ways and outdoes the Hindu in the 
elaboration of ceremonial purity, even having the fuel with 
which his Brahman cook prepares his food sprinkled with 
water to purify it before it is burnt. Mr. A. K. Smith states 
that a Gond will not eat an antelope if a Chamar has 
touched it, even unskinned, and in some places they are 
so strict that a wife may not eat her husband's leavings of 
food. The Gonds will not eat the leavings of any Hindu 

ii LIQUOR 129 

caste, probably on account of a traditional hostility arising 
out of their subjection by the Hindus. Very few Hindu 
castes will take water or food from the Gonds, but some 
who employ them as farmservants do this for convenience. 
The Gonds are not regarded as impure, even though from 
a Hindu point of view some of their habits are more 
objectionable than those of the impure castes. This is 
because the Gonds have never been completely reduced to 
subjection, nor converted into the village drudges, who 
are consigned to the most degraded occupations. Large 
numbers of them hold land as tenants and estates as 
zamlndars ; and the greater part of the Province was once 
governed by Gond kings. The Hindus say that they could 
not consider a tribe as impure to which their kings once 
belonged. Brahmans will take water from Raj-Gonds and 
Khatola Gonds in many localities. This is when it is 
freshly brought from the well and not after it has been 
put in their houses. 

Excessive drinking is the common vice of the Gonds 69. Liquor, 
and the principal cause which militates against their suc- 
cessfully competing with the Hindus. They drink the 
country spirit distilled from the flowers of the mahua tree, 
and in the south of the Province toddy or the fermented 
juice of the date-palm. As already seen, in Bastar their 
idea of hell is a place without liquor. The loss of the 
greater part of the estates formerly held by Gond proprietors 
has been due to this vice, which many Hindu liquor-sellers 
have naturally fostered to their own advantage. No festival 
or wedding passes without a drunken bout, and in Chanda 
at the season for tapping the date-palm trees the whole 
population of a village may be seen lying about in the 
open dead drunk. They impute a certain sanctity to the 
mahua tree, and in some places walk round a post of it at 
their weddings. Liquor is indispensable at all ceremonial 
feasts, and a purifying quality is attributed to it, so that it 
is drunk at the cemetery or bathing-^/zez/ after a funeral. 
The family arranges for liquor, but mourners attending from 
other families also bring a bottle each with them, if possible. 
Practically all the events of a Gond's life, the birth of a 
child, betrothals and weddings, recovery from sickness, the 

VOL. Ill K 


arrival of a guest, bringing home the harvest, borrowing 
money or hiring bullocks, and making contracts for cultiva- 
tion, are celebrated by drinking. And when a Gond has 
once begun to drink, if he has the money he usually goes 
on till he is drunk, and this is why the habit is such a 
curse to him. He is of a social disposition and does not 
like to drink alone. If he has drunk something, and has 
no more money, and the contractor refuses to let him have 
any more on credit as the law prescribes, the Gond will 
sometimes curse him and swear never to drink in his shop 
again. Nevertheless, within a few days he will be back, 
and when chaffed about it will answer simply that he could 
not resist the longing. In spite of all the harm it does 
him, it must be admitted that it is the drink which gives 
most of the colour and brightness to a Gond's life, and 
without this it would usually be tame to a degree. 

When a Gond drinks water from a stream or tank, he 

bends down and puts his mouth to the surface and does 

not make a cup with his hands like a Hindu. 

70. Admis- Outsiders are admitted into the tribe in some localities 

in Bastar, and also the offspring of a Gond man or woman 

outsiders r " 

and with a person of another caste, excepting the lowest. But 

morality some people will not admit the children of a Gond woman 
by a man of another caste. Not much regard is paid to 
the chastity of girls before marriage, though in the more 
civilised tracts the stricter Hindu views on the subject are 
beginning to prevail. Here it is said that if a girl is 
detected in a sexual intrigue before marriage she may be 
taken into caste, but may not participate in the worship of 
Bura Deo nor of the household god. But this is probably 
rather a counsel of perfection than a rule actually enforced. 
If a daughter is taken in the sexual act, they think some 
misfortune will happen to them, as the death of a cow or 
the failure of crops. Similarly the Maria Gonds think that 
if tigers kill their cattle it is a punishment for the adultery 
of their wives, and hence if a man loses a head or two he 
looks very closely after his wife, and detection is often 
followed by murder. Here probably adultery was originally 
considered an offence as being a sin against the tribe, 
because it contaminated the tribal blood, and out of this 


attitude marital jealousy has subsequently developed. 
Speaking generally, the enforcement of rules of sexual 
morality appears to be comparatively recent, and there is 
no doubt that the Baigas and other tribes who have lived 
in contact with the Gonds, as well as the Ahlrs and other 
low castes, have a large admixture of Gond blood. In 
Bastar a Gond woman formerly had no feelings of modesty 
as regards her breasts, but this is now being acquired. 
Laying the hand on a married woman's shoulder gives 
great offence. Mr. Low writes : x "It is difficult to say 
what is not a legal marriage from a Gond point of view ; 
but in spite of this laxity abductions are frequent, and 
Colonel Bloomfield mentions one particularly noteworthy 
case where the abductor, an unusually ugly Gond with a 
hare-lip, was stated by the complainant to have taken 
off first the latter's aunt, then his sister and finally his 
only wife." 

Many Gond villages in Chhattlsgarh and the Feudatory 7 i. com- 
States have what is known as a gotalghar. This is a larre mon slee P- 

. & mg-nouses. 

house near the village where unmarried youths and maidens 
collect and dance and sing together at night. Some villages 
have two, one for the boys and one for the girls. In Bastar 
the boys have a regular organisation, their captain being 
called Sirdar, and the master of the ceremonies Kotwar, 
while they have other officials bearing the designation of the 
State officers. After supper the unmarried boys go first to 
the gotalghar and are followed by the girls. The Kotwar 
receives the latter and directs them to bow to the Sirdar, 
which they do. Each girl then takes a boy and combs his 
hair and massages his hands and arms to refresh him, and 
afterwards they sing and dance together until they are tired 
and then go to bed. The girls can retire to their own house 
if they wish, but frequently they sleep in the boys' house. 
Thus numerous couples become intimate, and if on discovery 
the parents object to their marriage, they run away to the 
jungle, and it has to be recognised. In some villages, how- 
ever, girls are not permitted to go to the gotalghar. In one 
part of Bastar they have a curious rule that all males, even 
the married, must sleep in the common house for the eight 

1 Balaghat District Gazetteer, p. 87. 



months of the open season, while their wives sleep in their 
own houses. A Maria Gond thinks it impious to have sexual 
intercourse with his wife in his house, as it would be an 
insult to the goddess of wealth who lives in the house, and 
the effect would be to drive her away. Their solicitude for 
this goddess is the more noticeable, as the Maria Gond's 
house and furniture probably constitute one of the least 
valuable human habitations on the face of the globe. 

When two Gond friends or relatives meet, they clasp each 
Methods of ot h er j n their arms and lean against each shoulder in turn. 

greeting ° 

and ob- A man will then touch the knees of an elder male relative 
benve"^ 5 w ^ tn n * s fi n g ers > carrying them afterwards to his own forehead, 
relatives. This is equivalent to falling at the other's feet, and is a token 
of respect shown to all elder male relatives and also to a 
son-in-law, sister's husband, and a samhdi, that is the father 
of a son- or daughter-in-law. Their term of salutation is 
Johar, and they say this to each other. Another method of 
greeting is that each should put his fingers under the other's 
chin and then kiss them himself. Women also do this when 
they meet. Or a younger woman meeting an elder will 
touch her feet, and the elder will then kiss her on the forehead 
and on each cheek. If they have not met for some time 
they will weep. It is said that Baigas will kiss each other 
on the cheek when meeting, both men and women. A Gond 
will kiss and caress his wife after marriage, but as soon as she 
has a child he drops the habit and never does it again. When 
husband and wife meet after an absence the wife touches her 
husband's feet with her hand and carries it to her forehead, 
but the husband makes no demonstration. The Gonds kiss 
their children. Among the Maria Gonds the wife is said 
not to sleep on a cot in her husband's house, which would 
be thought disrespectful to him, but on the ground. Nor 
will a woman even sit on a cot in her own house, as if any 
male relative happened to be in the house it would be dis- 
respectful to him. A woman will not say the name of her 
husband, his elder or younger brother, or his elder brother's 
sons. A man will not mention his wife's name nor that of 
her elder sister. 

The tribe have pancliayats or committees for the settle- 
ment of tribal disputes and offences. A member of the 


panchayat is selected by general consent, and holds office 73^ The 
during good behaviour. The office is not hereditary, and Q p^ ch&yat 
generally there does not seem to be a recognised head of the and social 
panchayat. In Mandla there is a separate panchayat for each 
village, and every Gond male adult belongs to it, and all have 
to be summoned to a meeting. When they assemble five 
leading elderly men decide the matter in dispute, as repre- 
senting the assembly. Caste offences are of the usual Hindu 
type with some variations. Adultery, taking another man's 
wife or daughter, getting vermin in a wound, being sent to 
jail and eating the jail food, or even having handcuffs put 
on, a woman getting her ear torn, and eating or even smoking 
with a man of very low caste, are the ordinary offences. 
Others are being beaten by a shoe, dealing in the hides of 
cattle or keeping donkeys, removing the corpse of a dead 
horse or donkey, being touched by a sweeper, cooking in the 
earthen pots of any impure caste, a woman entering the 
kitchen during her monthly impurity, and taking to wife the 
widow of a younger brother, but not of course of an elder 

In the case of septs which revere a totem animal or 
plant, any act committed in connection with that animal or 
plant by a member of the sept is an offence within the 
cognisance of the panchayat. Thus in Mandla the Kumhra 
sept revere the goat and the Markam sept the crocodile and 
crab. If a member of one of these septs touches, keeps, kills 
or eats the animal which his sept reveres, he is put out of 
caste and comes before the pancJiayat. In practice the 
offences with which the panchayat most frequently deals are 
the taking of another man's wife or the kidnapping of a 
daughter for marriage, this last usually occurring between 
relatives. Both these offences can also be brought before 
the regular courts, but it is usually only when the aggrieved 
person cannot get satisfaction from the panchayat, or when 
the offender refuses to abide by its decision, that the case 
goes to court. If a Gond loses his wife he will in the 
ordinary course compromise the matter if the man who takes 
her will repay his wedding expenses ; this is a very serious 
business for him, as his wedding is the principal expense of 
a man's life, and it is probable that he may not be able to 

i 3 4 GOND part 

afford to buy another girl and pay for her wedding. If he 
cannot get his wedding expenses back through the panchayat 
he files a complaint of adultery under the Penal Code, in the 
hope of being repaid through a fine inflicted on the offender, 
and it is perfectly right and just that this should be done. 
When a girl is kidnapped for marriage, her family can usually 
be induced to recognise the affair if they receive the price 
they could have got for the girl in an ordinary marriage, and 
perhaps a little more, as a solace to their outraged feelings. 

The panchayat takes no cognisance of theft, cheating, 
forgery, perjury, causing hurt and other forms of crime. 
These are not considered to be offences against the caste, 
and no penalty is inflicted for them. Only if a man is 
arrested and handcuffed, or if he is sent to jail for any such 
crime, he is put out of caste for eating the jail food and 
subjected in this latter case to a somewhat severe penalty. 
It is not clear whether a Gond is put out of caste for murder, 
though Hindu panchayats take cognisance of this offence. 
74. Caste The punishments inflicted by the panchayat consist of 

penalty feasts, and in the case of minor offences of a fine. This 
last, subject perhaps to some commission to the members 
for their services, is always spent on liquor, the drinking of 
which by the offender with the caste-fellows will purify him. 
The Gonds consider country liquor as equivalent to the 
Hindu Amrita or nectar. 

The penalty for a serious offence involves three feasts. 
The first, known as the meal of impurity, consists of sweet 
wheaten cakes which are eaten by the elders on the bank of 
a stream or well. The second or main feast is given in the 
offender's courtyard to all the castemen of the village and 
sometimes of other villages. Rice, pulse, and meat, either of a 
slaughtered pig or goat, are provided at this. The third feast 
is known as ' The taking back into caste ' and is held in the 
offender's house and may be cooked by him. Wheat, rice 
and pulses are served, but not meat or vegetables. When 
the panchayat have eaten this food in the offender's house 
he is again a proper member of the caste. Liquor is 
essential at each feast. The nature of the penalty feasts is 
thus very clear. They have the effect of a gradual purifica- 
tion of the offender. In the first meal he can take no part, 


nor is it served in his house, but in some neutral place. 
For the second meal the castemen go so far as to sit in his 
compound, but apparently he does not cook the food nor 
partake of it. At the third meal they eat with him in his 
house and he is fully purified. These three meals are pre- 
scribed only for serious offences, and for ordinary ones only 
two meals, the offender partaking of the second. The three 
meals are usually exacted from a woman taken in adultery 
with an outsider. In this case the woman's head is shaved 
at the first meal by the Sharmia, that is her son-in-law, and 
the children put her to shame by throwing lumps of cowdung 
at her. She runs away and bathes in a stream. At the 
second meal, taken in her courtyard, the Sharmia sprinkles 
some blood on the ground and on the lintel of the door as 
an offering to the gods and in order that the house may be 
pure for the future. If a man is poor and cannot afford the 
expense of the penalty feasts imposed on him, the pancJiayat 
will agree that only a few persons will attend instead of the 
whole community. The procedure above described is prob- 
ably borrowed to a large extent from Hinduism, but the 
working of a pcmchayat can be observed better among the 
Gonds and lower castes than among high-caste Hindus, who 
are tending to let it lapse into abeyance. 

The following detailed process of purification had to be 75- Special 
undergone by a well-to-do Gond widow in Mandla who had ceremony 11 
been detected with a man of the Panka caste, lying drunk 
and naked in a liquor-shop. The Gonds here consider the 
Pankas socially beneath themselves. The ritual clearly 
belongs to Hinduism, as shown by the purifying virtue 
attached to contact with cows and bullocks and cowdung, 
and was directed by the Panda or priest of Devi's shrine, 
who, however, would probably be a Gond. First, the 
offending woman was taken right out of the village across a 
stream ; here her head was shaved with the urine of an all- 
black bullock and her body washed with his dung, and she 
then bathed in the stream, and a feast was given on its bank 
to the caste. She slept here, and next day was yoked to the 
same bullock and taken thus to the Kharkha or standing- 
place for the village cattle. She was rolled over the surface 
of the Kharkha about four times, again rubbed with cowdung, 


another feast was given, and she slept the night on the spot, 
without being washed. Next day, covered with the dust 
and cowdung of the Kharkha, she crouched underneath the 
black bullock's belly and in this manner proceeded to the 
gate of her own yard. Here a bottle of liquor and fifteen 
chickens were waved round her and afterwards offered at 
Devi's shrine, where they became the property of the Panda 
who was conducting the ceremony. Another feast was given 
in her yard and the woman slept there. Next day the 
woman, after bathing, was placed standing with one foot 
outside her threshold and the other inside ; a feast was 
given, called the feast of the threshold, and she again slept 
in her yard. On the following day came the final feast of 
purification in the house. The woman was bathed eleven 
times, and a hen, a chicken and five eggs were offered by 
the Panda to each of her household gods. Then she drank 
a little liquor from a cup of which the Panda had drunk, 
and ate some of the leavings of food of which he had eaten. 
The black bullock and a piece of cloth sufficient to cover it 
were presented to the Panda for his services. Then the 
woman took a dish of rice and pulse and placed a little in 
the leaf-cup of each of the caste-fellows present, and they all 
ate it and she was readmitted to caste. Twelve cow-buffaloes 
were sold to pay for the ceremony, which perhaps cost 
Rs. 600 or more. 
76. Dane- Dancing and singing to the dance constitute the social 

ing ' amusement and recreation of the Gonds, and they are 

passionately fond of it. The principal dance is the Karma, 
danced in celebration of the bringing of the leafy branch of a 
tree from the forest in the rains. They continue to dance it 
as a recreation during the nights of the cold and hot weather, 
whenever they have leisure and a supply of liquor, which is 
almost indispensable, is forthcoming. The Marias dance, men 
and women together, in a great circle, each man holding 
the girl next him on one side round the neck and on the 
other round the waist. They keep perfect time, moving 
each foot alternately in unison throughout the line, and 
moving round in a slow circle. Only unmarried girls may 
join in a Maria dance, and once a woman is married she can 
never dance again. This is no doubt a salutary provision 



ii SONGS 137 

for household happiness, as sometimes couples, excited by 
the dance and wine, run away from it into the jungle and 
stay there for a day or two till their relatives bring them 
home and consider them as married. At the Maria dances 
the men wear the skins of tigers, panthers, deer and other 
animals, and sometimes head-dresses of peacock's feathers. 
They may also have a girdle of cowries round the waist, 
and a bell tied to their back to ring as they move. The 
musicians sit in the centre and play various kinds of drums 
and tom-toms. At a large Maria dance there may be as 
many as thirty musicians, and the provision of rice or kodon 
and liquor may cost as much as Rs. 50. In other localities 
the dance is less picturesque. Men and women form two 
long lines opposite each other, with the musicians in the 
centre, and advance and retreat alternately, bringing one 
foot forward and the other up behind it, with a similar 
movement in retiring. Married women may dance, and the 
men do not hold the women at any time. At intervals they 
break off and liquor is distributed in small leaf-cups, or if 
these are not available, it is poured into the hands of the 
dancers held together like a cup. In either case a consider- 
able proportion of the liquor is usually spilt on to the ground. 

All the time they are dancing they also sing in unison, 77- Songs, 
the men sometimes singing one line and the women the 
next, or both together. The songs are with few exceptions 
of an erotic character, and a few specimens are subjoined. 

a. Be not proud of your body, your body must go away above (to 

Your mother, brother and all your kinsmen, you must leave them 

and go. 
You may have lakhs of treasure in your house, but you must leave 

it all and go. 

b. The musicians play and the feet beat on the earth. 

A pice (^d.) for a divorced woman, two pice for a kept woman, for 

a virgin many sounding rupees. 
The musicians play and the earth sounds with the trampling of feet. 

c. Raja Darwa is dead, he died in his youth. 

Who is he that has taken the small gun, who has taken the big bow ? 
Who is aiming through the harra and bahera trees, who is aiming 

on the plain ? 
Who has killed the quail and partridge, who has killed the peacock ? 

1 38 GOND part 

Raja Darwa has died in the prime of his youth. 

The big brother says, ' I killed him, I killed him ' ; the little brother 

shot the arrow. 
Raja Darwa has died in the bloom of his youth. 

d. Rawan l is coming disguised as a Bairagi ; by what road will Rawan 

come ? 
The houses and castles fell before him, the ruler of Bhanwargarh 

rose up in fear. 
He set the match to his powder, he stooped and crept along the 

ground and fired. 

e. Little pleasure is got from a kept woman ; she gives her lord pej 

(gruel) of kutki to drink. 
She gives it him in a leaf-cup of laburnum ; 2 the cup is too small 

for him to drink. 
She put two gourds full of water in it, and the gruel is so thin that 

it gives him no sustenance. 

f. Man speaks : 

The wife is asleep and her Raja (husband) is asleep in her lap. 
She has taken a piece of bread in her lap and water in her vessel. 
See from her eyes will she come or not ? 

Woman : 

I have left my cow in her shed, my buffalo in her stall. 

I have left my baby at the breast and am come alone to follow you. 

g. The father said to his son, ' Do not go out to service with any 

master, neither go to any strange woman. 
I will sell my sickle and axe, and make you two marriages.' 
He made a marriage feast for his son, and in one plate he put rice, 

and over it meat, and poured soup over it till it flowed out of 

the plate. 
Then he said to the men and women, young and old, ' Come and 

eat your fill.' 

In 191 1 Gondi was spoken by 1,500,000 persons, or 
more than half the total number of Gonds in India. The 
other Gonds of the Central Provinces speak a broken Hindi. 
Gondi is a Dravidian language, having a common ancestor 
with Tamil and Canarese, but little immediate connection 

1 Rawan was the demon king of 2 The amallas or Cassia fistula, 

Ceylon who fought against Rama, and which has flowers like a laburnum, 

from whom the Gonds are supposed to The idea is perhaps that its leaves are 

be descended. Hence this song may too small to make a proper leaf-cup, 

perhaps refer to a Gond revolt against and she will not take the trouble to 

the Hindus. get suitable leaves. 


with its neighbour Telugu ; the specimens given by Sir G. 
Grierson show that a large number of Hindi words have 
been adopted into the vocabulary of Gondi, and this tendency 
is no doubt on the increase. There are probably few Gonds 
outside the Feudatory States, and possibly a few of the 
wildest tracts in British Districts, who could not understand 
Hindi to some extent. And with the extension of primary 
education in British Districts Gondi is likely to decline still 
more rapidly. Gondi has no literature and no character of 
its own ; but the Gospels and the Book of Genesis have been 
translated into it and several grammatical sketches and 
vocabularies compiled. In Saugor the Hindus speak of 
Gondi as Farsi or Persian, apparently applying this latter 
name to any foreign language. 

(/*) Occupation 

The Gonds are mainly engaged in agriculture, and the 79. Cui- 
great bulk of them are farmservants and labourers. In the tlvatlon - 
hilly tracts, however, there is a substantial Gond tenantry, 
and a small number of proprietors remain, though the 
majority have been ousted by Hindu moneylenders and 
liquor-sellers. In the eastern Districts many important 
zamindari estates are owned by Gond proprietors. The 
ancestors of these families held the wild hilly country on 
the borders of the plains in feudal tenure from the central 
rulers, and were responsible for the restraint of the savage 
hillmen under their jurisdiction, and the protection of the 
rich and settled lowlands from predatory inroads from with- 
out. Their descendants are ordinary landed proprietors, 
and would by this time have lost their estates but for the 
protection of the law declaring them impartible and inalien- 
able. A few of the Feudatory Chiefs are also Gonds. 
Gond proprietors are generally easy-going and kind-hearted 
to their tenants, but lacking in business acumen and energy, 
and often addicted to drink and women. The tenants are 
as a class shiftless and improvident and heavily indebted. 
But they show signs of improvement, especially in the 
ryotwari villages under direct Government management, and 
it may be hoped that primary education and more temperate 

i 4 o GOND PART 

habits will gradually render them equal to the Hindu 
80. Patch In the Feudatory States and some of the zamlndaris the 

cultivation. Q on( ] s re tain the dahia or bewar method of shifting cultiva- 
tion, which has been prohibited everywhere else on account 
of its destructive effects on the forests. The Maria Gonds 
of Bastar cut down a patch of jungle on a hillside about 
February, and on its drying up burn all the wood in April 
or May. Tying strips of the bark of the saj tree to their 
feet to prevent them from being burnt, they walk over the 
smouldering area, and with long bamboo sticks move any 
unburnt logs into a burning patch, so that they may all be 
consumed. When the first showers of rain fall they scatter 
seed of the small millets into the soft covering of wood 
ashes, and the fertility of the soil is such that without further 
trouble they get a return of a hundred-fold or more. The 
same patch can be sown for three years in succession with- 
out ploughing, but it then gives out, and the Gonds move 
themselves and their habitations to a fresh one. When the 
jungle has been allowed to grow on the old patch for ten 
or twelve years, there is sufficient material for a fresh 
supply of wood -ash manure, and they burn it over again. 
Teak yields a particularly fertilising ash, and when standing 
the tree is hurtful to crops grown near it, as its large, broad 
leaves cause a heavy drip and wash out the grain. Hence 
the Gonds were particularly hostile to this tree, and it is 
probably to their destructive efforts that the poor growth of 
teak over large areas of the Provincial forests is due. 1 The 
Maria Gonds do not use the plough, and their only agri- 
cultural implement is a kind of hoe or spade. Elsewhere 
the Gonds are gradually adopting the Hindu methods of 
cultivation, but their land is generally in hilly and jungly 
tracts and of poor quality. They occupy large areas of the 
wretched barra or gravel soil which has disintegrated from 
the rock of the hillsides, and covers it in a thin sheet mixed 
with quantities of large stones. The Gonds, however, like 
this land, as it is so shallow as to entail very little trouble 
in ploughing, and it is suitable for their favourite crops of 
the small millets, kodon and kutki, and the poorer oilseeds. 
1 Hislop, Notes, p. 2. 


After three years of cropping it must be given an equal or 
longer period of fallow before it will again yield any return. 
The Gonds say it is narang or exhausted. In the new 
ryotwari villages formed within the last twenty years the 
Gonds form a large section, and in Mandla the great 
majority, of the tenantry, and have good black-soil fields 
which grow wheat and other valuable crops. Here, perhaps, 
their condition is happier than anywhere else, as they are 
secured in the possession of their lands subject to the pay- 
ment of revenue, liberally assisted with Government loans 
at low interest, and protected as far as possible from the 
petty extortion and peculation of Hindu subordinate officials 
and moneylenders. The opening of a substantial number 
of primary schools to serve these villages will, it may be 
hoped, have the effect of making the Gond a more in- 
telligent and provident cultivator, and counteract the ex- 
cessive addiction to liquor which is the great drawback to 
his prosperity. The fondness of the Gond for his bdri or 
garden plot adjoining his hut has been described in the 
section on villages and houses. 

The primary occupation of the Gonds in former times 81. Hunt- 
was hunting and fishing, but their opportunities in this j. ng : traps 
respect have been greatly circumscribed by the conservation animals. 
of the game in Government forests, which was essential if 
it was not to become extinct, when the native shikaris had 
obtained firearms. Their weapons were until recently bows 
and arrows, but now Gond hunters usually have an old 
matchlock gun. They have several ingenious devices for 
trapping animals. It is essential for them to make a 
stockade round their patch cultivation fields in the forests, 
or the grain would be devoured by pig and deer. At one 
point in this they leave a narrow opening, and in front of it 
dig a deep pit and cover it with brushwood and grass ; 
then at the main entrance they spread some sand. Coming 
in the middle of the night they see from the footprints in 
the sand what animals have entered the enclosure ; if these 
are worth catching they close the main gate, and make as 
much noise as they can. The frightened animals dash 
round the enclosure and, seeing the opening, run through it 
and fall into the pit, where they are easily despatched with 



clubs and axes. They also set traps across the forest 
paths frequented by animals. The method is to take a 
strong raw-hide rope and secure one end of it to a stout 
sapling, which is bent down like a spring. The other end 
is made into a noose and laid open on the ground, often 
over a small hole. It is secured by a stone or log of wood, 
and this is so arranged by means of some kind of fall-trap 
that on pressure in the centre of the hole it is displaced and 
releases the noose. The animal comes and puts his foot in 
the hole, thus removing the trap which secured the noose. 
This flies up and takes the animal's foot with it, being 
drawn tight in mid-air by the rebound of the sapling. The 
animal is thus suspended with one foot in the air, which it 
cannot free, and the Gonds come and kill it. Tigers are 
sometimes caught in this manner. A third very cruel kind 
of trap is made by putting up a hedge of thorns and grass 
across a forest-path, on the farther side of which they plant 
a few strong and sharply-pointed bamboo stakes. A deer 
coming up will jump the hedge, and on landing will be im- 
paled on one of the stakes. The wound is very severe and 
often festers immediately, so that the victim dies in a few 
hours. Or they suspend a heavy beam over a forest path 
held erect by a loose prop which stands on the path. The 
deer comes along and knocks aside the prop, and the beam 
falls on him and pins him down. Mr. Montgomerie writes 
as follows on Gond methods of hunting : x " The use of the 
bow and arrow is being forgotten owing to the restrictions 
placed by Government on hunting. The Gonds can still 
throw an axe fairly straight, but a running hare is a difficult 
mark and has a good chance of escaping. The hare, how- 
ever, falls a victim to the fascination of fire. The Gond 
takes an earthen pot, knocks a large hole in the side of it, 
and slings it on a pole with a counterbalancing stone at the 
other end. Then at night he slings the pole over one 
shoulder, with the earthen pot in front containing fire, and 
sallies out hare-hunting. He is accompanied by a man who 
bears a bamboo. The hare, attracted and fascinated by the 
light, comes close and watches it stupidly till the bamboo 
descends on the animal's head, and the Gonds have hare for 

1 Chhindwara Settlement Report. 


supper." Sometimes a bell is rung as well, and this is said 
to attract the animals. They also catch fish by holding a 
lamp over the water on a dark night and spearing them 
with a trident. 

Gond-Gowari. 1 — A small hybrid caste formed from 
alliances between Gonds and Gowaris or herdsmen of the 
Maratha country. Though they must now be considered 
as a distinct caste, being impure and thus ranking lower 
than either the Gonds or Gowaris, they are still often 
identified with either of them. In 1901 only 3000 were 
returned, principally from the Nagpur and Chanda Districts. 
In 191 1 they were amalgamated with the Gowaris, and this 
view may be accepted as their origin is the same. The 
Gowaris say that the Gond-Gowaris are the descendants of 
one of two brothers who accidentally ate the flesh of a cow. 
Both the Gonds and Gowaris frequent the jungles for long 
periods together, and it is natural that intimacies should 
spring up between the youth of either sex. And the progeny 
of these irregular connections has formed a separate caste, 
looked down upon by both its progenitors. The Gond- 
Gowaris have no subcastes, and for purposes of marriages 
are divided into exogamous septs, all bearing Gond names. 
Like the Gonds, the caste is also split into two divisions, 
worshipping six and seven gods respectively, and members 
of septs worshipping the same number of gods must not 
marry with each other. The deities of the six and seven 
god-worshippers are identical, except that the latter have 
one extra called Durga or Devi, who is represented by a 
copper coin of the old Nagpur dynasty. Of the other deities 
Bura Deo is a piece of iron, Khoda and Khodavan are both 
pieces of the kadamb tree (Nanclea parvifolia), Supari is the 
areca-nut, and Kaipen consists of two iron rings and counts 
as two deities. It seems probable, therefore, from the double 
set of identical deities that two of the original ones have 
been forgotten. The gods are kept on a small piece of red 
cloth in a closed bamboo basket, which must not be opened 
except on days of worship, lest they should work some 
mischief; on these special days they are rendered harmless 

1 This article is based on a paper by Pandit Pyare Lai Misra. 

, 44 GONDHALI part 

for the time being by the homage which is rendered to them. 
Marriage is adult, and a bride-price of nine rupees and some 
grain is commonly paid by the boy's family. The ceremony 
is a mixture of Gond and Maratha forms ; the couple walk 
seven times round a bohla or mound of earth and the guests 
clap their hands. At a widow-marriage they walk three and 
a half times round a burning lamp, as this is considered to 
be only a kind of half-marriage. The morality of the caste 
is very loose, and a wife will commonly be pardoned any 
transgression except an intrigue with a man of very low 
caste. Women of other castes, such as Kunbis or Barhais, 
may be admitted to the community on forming a connection 
with a Gond-Gowari. The caste have no prescribed observ- 
ance of mourning for the dead. The Gond-Gowaris are 
cultivators and labourers, and dress like the Kunbis. They 
are considered to be impure and must live outside the village, 
while other castes refuse to touch them. The bodies of 
the women are disfigured by excessive tattooing, the legs 
being covered with a pattern of dots and lines reaching up 
to the thighs. In this matter they simply follow their Gond 
ancestors, but they say that a woman who is not tattooed is 
impure and cannot worship the deities. 

Gondhali. 1 — A caste or order of wandering beggars 
and musicians found in the Maratha Districts of the 
Central Provinces and in Berar. The name is derived 
from the Marathi word gondharne, to make a noise. In 
191 i the Gondhalis numbered about 3000 persons in 
Berar and 500 in the Central Provinces, and they are 
also found in Bombay. The origin of the caste is obscure, 
but it appears to have been recruited in recent times 
from the offspring of Waghyas and Murlis or male and 
female children devoted to temples by their parents in 
fulfilment of a vow. Mr. Kitts states in the Berar Census 
Report^ of 1 88 1 that the Gondhalis are there attached 
either to the temple of Tukai at Tuljapur or the temple 
of Renuka at Mahur, and in consequence form two 

1 This article is compiled from and Pyare Lai Misra, Ethnographic 
papers by Mr. Kesho Rao Joshi, Clerk. 
Headmaster, City School, Nagpur, 2 Page 67. 

ii GONDHALI 145 

subcastes, the Kadamrai and Renurai, who do not inter- 
marry. In the Central Provinces, however, besides these 
two there are a number of other subcastes, most of which 
bear the names of distinct castes, and obviously consist 
of members of that caste who became Gondhalis, or of 
their descendants. Thus among the names of subcastes 
reported are the Brahman, Maratha, Mane Kunbi, Khaire 
Kunbi, Teli, Mahar, Mang and Vidur Gondhalis, as well 
as others like the Deshkars, or those coming from 
the Deccan, the Gangapare, 1 or those from beyond the 
Ganges, and the Hijade or eunuchs. It is clear, therefore, 
that members of these castes becoming Gondhalis attempt to 
arrange their marriages with other converts from their own 
caste and to retain their relative social position. There 
is little doubt that all Gondhalis are theoretically meant to 
be equal, a principle which at their first foundation applies 
to nearly all sects and orders, but here as elsewhere the 
social feeling of caste has been too strong to permit of its 
retention. It may be doubted, however, whether in view 
of the small total numbers of the caste all these groups 
can be strictly endogamous. The Kunbi Gondhalis can 
take food from the ordinary Kunbis, but they rank 
below them, as being mendicants. The caste has also 
a number of exogamous groups or gotras, the names 
of which may be classified as titular or territorial. 
Instances of the former kind are Dokiphode or one who 
broke his head while begging, Sukt (thin, emaciated), 
Muke (dumb), Jabal (one with long hair like a JogI), 
and Panchange (one who has five limbs). Girls are 
married as a rule before adolescence, and the cere- 
mony resembles that of the Kunbis, but a special prayer 
is offered to the deity Renuka, and the boy is invested 
with a necklace of cowries by five married men of the 
caste. Till this has been done he is not considered to 
be a proper Gondhali. Celibacy is not a tenet of the 
order. The remarriage of widows is allowed, and the 
ceremony consists in the husband placing a string of 
small black glass beads round the woman's neck, while 
she holds out a pair of new shoes for him to put his feet 

1 In the Maratha Districts the term Ganges sometimes signifies the Wainganga. 
VOL. Ill L 

I4 6 GONDHALI part 

into. The second wife often wears a small silver or golden 
image of the first wife round her neck, and worships it 
before she eats 'by touching it with food ; she also asks its 
permission before going to sleep with her husband. The 
goddess Bhawani or Devi is especially revered by the caste, 
and they fast in her honour on Tuesdays and Fridays. They 
worship their musical instruments at Dasahra with an offer- 
ing of a goat, and afterwards sing and dance for the whole 
night, this being their principal festival. They also observe 
the nine days' fasts in honour of Devi in Chait (March) 
and Kunwar (September) and sow the Jawaras or pots of 
wheat. The Gondhalis are mendicant musicians, and are 
engaged on the occasion of marriages among the higher 
castes to perform their gondhal or dance accompanied by 
music. Four men are needed for it, one being the dancer 
who is dressed in a long white robe with a necklace of 
cowries and bells on his ankles, while the other three stand 
behind him, two of them carrying drums and the third a 
sacred torch called dioti. The torch -bearer serves as a 
butt for the witticisms of the dancer. Their instruments 
are the chonka, an open drum carrying an iron string which 
is beaten with a small wooden pin, and two sambals or 
double drums of iron, wood or earth, one of which emits a 
dull and the other a sharp sound. The dance is performed 
in honour of the goddess Bhawani. They set up a wooden 
stool on the stage arranged for the performance, covered 
with a cloth on which wheat is spread, and over this is placed 
a brass vessel containing water and a cocoanut. This repre- 
sents the goddess. After the performance the Gondhalis take 
away and eat the cocoanut and wheat ; their regular fee for 
an engagement is Rs. 1-4, and the guests give them presents 
of a few pice (farthings). They are engaged for important 
ceremonies such as marriages, the Barsa or name - giving 
of a boy, and the Shantik or maturity of a girl, and also 
merely for entertainment ; but in this case the stool and 
cocoanut representing the goddess are not set up. The 
following is a specimen of a Gondhali religious song : 

Where I come from and who am I, 

This mystery none has solved ; 

Father, mother, sister and brother, these are all illusions. 

ii GOPAL r 4 7 

I call them mine and am lost in my selfish concerns. 

Worldliness is the beginning of hell, man has wrapped himself in it with- 
out reason. 

Remember your guru, go to him and touch his feet. 

Put on the shield of mercy and compassion and take the sword of 

God is in every human body. 

The caste beg between dawn and noon, wearing a long 
white or red robe and a red turban folded from twisted 
strings of cloth like the Marathas. Their status is some- 
what low, but they are usually simple and honest Occasion- 
ally a man becomes a Gondhali in fulfilment of a vow without 
leaving his own caste ; he will then be initiated by a 
member of the caste and given the necklace of cowries, and on 
every Tuesday he will wear this and beg from five persons 
in honour of the goddess Devi ; while except for this observ- 
ance he remains a member of his own caste and pursues 
his ordinary business. 

Gopal, BOFekar. Bibliography : Major Gunthorpe's Criminal 

Tribes; Mr. Kitt's Berar Census Report, 1881. 

A small vagrant and criminal caste of Berar, where they 
numbered about 2000 persons in 1901. In the Central 
Provinces they were included among the Nats in 1901, but 
in 1 89 1 a total of 681 were returned. Here they belong 
principally to the Nimar District, and Major Gunthorpe 
considers that they entered Berar from Nimar and Indore. 

They are divided into five classes, the Marathi, Vlr, 
Pangul, Pahalwan, or Kham, and Gujarati Gopals. The 
ostensible occupation of all the groups is the buying and 
selling of buffaloes. The word Gopal means a cowherd and 
is a name of Krishna. The Marathi Gopals rank higher 
than the rest, and all other classes will take food from them, 
while the Vlr Gopals eat the flesh of dead cattle and are 
looked down upon by the others. The ostensible occupa- 
tion of the Vlr Gopals is that of making mats from 
the leaves of the date-palm tree. They build their huts of 
date-leaves outside a village and remain there for one or two 
years or more until the headman tells them to move on. The 
name Borekar is stated to have the meaning of mat-maker. 
The Pangul Gopals also make mats, but in addition to this 

t 4 8 GOPAL part 

they are mendicants, begging from off trees, and must be the 
same as the Harbola mendicants of the Central Provinces. 
The Pangul spreads a cloth below a tree and climbing it 
sits on some high branch in the early morning. Here he 
sings and chants the praises of charitable persons until some- 
body throws a small present on to the cloth. This he does 
only between cock-crow and sunrise and not after sunrise. 
Others walk through the streets, ejaculating dam ! 1 dam ! and 
begging from door to door. With the exception of shaving 
after a death they never cut the hair either of their head or 
face. Their principal deity is Dawal Malik, but they also 
worship Khandoba ; and they bury the bodies of their dead. 
The corpse is carried to the grave in a jholi or wallet and 
is buried in a sitting posture. In order to discover whether 
a dead ancestor has been reborn in a child they have 
recourse to magic. A lamp is suspended from a thread, and 
the upper stone of the grinding-mill is placed standing upon 
the lower one. If either of them moves when the name of 
the dead ancestor is pronounced they consider that he has 
been reborn. One section of the Panguls has taken to agricul- 
ture, and these refuse to marry with the mendicants, though 
eating and drinking with them. The Pahalwan Gopals live 
in small tents and travel about, carrying their belongings on 
buffaloes. They are wrestlers and gymnasts, and belong 
mainly to Hyderabad. 2 The Kham Gopals are a similar 
group also belonging to Hyderabad ; and are so named 
because they carry about a long pole {kham) on which they 
perform acrobatic feats. They also have thick canvas bags, 
striped blue and white, in which they carry their property. 
The Gujarati Gopals are lower than the other divisions, 
who will not take food from them. They are tumblers and 
do feats of strength and also perform, on the tight-rope. All 
five groups, Major Gunthorpe states, are inveterate cattle- 
thieves ; and have colonies of their people settled on the 
Indore and Hyderabad borders and between them along the 
foot of the Satpura Hills. Buffaloes or other animals which 
they steal are passed along from post to post and taken to 
foreign territory in an incredibly short space of time. A 

1 Dam apparently here means life or breath. 
2 Gunthorpe, p. 91. 

ii GOPAL 149 

considerable proportion of them, however, have now taken to 
agriculture, and their proper traditional calling is to sell milk 
and butter, for which they keep buffaloes. Gopal is a name 
of Krishna, and they consider themselves to be descended 
from the herdsmen of Brindaban. 




Names for the Gosains. 


The Rawanvansis. 


The te?i orders. 






The fghting Gosains. 






Methods of begging and greet- 

1 1. 

Sexual indulgence. 



Missionary work. 


The Dandis. 


The Gosain caste. 

i. Names Gosain, Gusain, Sanniasi, Dasnami. 1 — A name for the 

f ° r the orders of religious mendicants of the Sivite sect, from which 


a caste has now developed. In 191 1 the Gosains numbered 
a little over 40,000 persons in the Central Provinces and 
Berar, being distributed over all Districts. The name 
Gosain signifies either gao-swami, master of cows, or go- 
swami, master of the senses. Its significance sometimes 
varies. Thus in Bengal the heads of Bairagi or Vaishnava 
monasteries are called Gosain, and the priests of the 
Vishnuite Vallabhacharya sect are known as Gokulastha 
Gosain. But over most of India, as in the Central Provinces, 
Gosain appears to be a name applied to members of the 
Sivite orders. Sanniasi means one who abandons the 
desires of the world and the body. Properly every Brahman 
should become a Sanniasi in the fourth stage or ashram of 
his life, when after marrying and begetting a son to celebrate 
his funeral rites in the second stage, he should retire to the 
forest, become a hermit and conquer all the appetites and 
passions of the body in the third stage. Thereafter, when 

1 This article contains material from J. N. Bhattacharya's Hindu Castes and 

Mr. J. C. Oman's Mystics, Ascetics Sects (Calcutta, Messrs. Thacker, Spink 

and Saints of India, Sir E. Maclagan's and Co.). 
Punjab Census Report, 189 1, and Dr. 



part ii THE TEN ORDERS 151 

the process of mortification is complete he should beg his 
bread as a Sanniasi. But only those who enter the religious 
orders now become Sanniasis, and the name is therefore 
confined to them. Dasnami means the ten names, and 
refers to the ten orders in which the Gosains or Sivite 
anchorites are commonly classified. Sadhu is a generic 
term for a religious mendicant. The name Gosain is now 
more commonly applied to the married members of the 
caste, who pursue ordinary avocations, while the mendicants 
are known as Sadhu or Sanniasi. 

The Gosains consider their founder to have been Shankar 2. The ten 
Acharya, the great apostle of the revival of the worship of orders - 
Siva in southern India, who lived between the eighth and 
tenth centuries. He had four disciples from whom the ten 
orders of Gosains are derived. These are commonly stated 
as follows : 

1. Giri (peak or top of a hill). 

2. Puri (a town). 

3. Parbat (a mountain). 

4. Sagar (the ocean). 

5. Ban or Van (the forest). 

6. Tlrtha (a shrine of pilgrimage). 

7. Bharthi (the goddess of speech). 

8. Saras wati (the goddess of learning). 

9. Aranya (forest). 

10. Ashram (a hermitage). 

The names may perhaps be held to refer to the different 
places in which the members of each order would pursue 
their austerities. The different orders have their head- 
quarters at great shrines. The Saraswati, Bharthi and Puri 
orders are supposed to be attached to the monastery at 
Sringeri in Mysore ; the Tlrtha and Ashram to that at 
Dwarka in Gujarat ; the Ban and Aranya to the Govardhan 
monastery at Puri ; and the Giri, Parbat and Sagara to the 
shrine of Badrinath in the Himalayas. 

Dandi is sometimes shown as one of the ten orders, but 
it seems to be the special designation of certain ascetics who 
carry a staff and may belong to either the Tlrtha, Ashram, 
Bharthi or Saraswati groups. Another name for Gosain 

IS 2 GO SAIN part 

ascetics is Abdhut, or one who has separated himself from 
the world. The term Abdhut is sometimes specially 
applied to followers of the Maratha saint, Dattatreya, an 
incarnation of Siva. 

The commonest orders in the Central Provinces are 
Giri, Puri and Bharthi, and the members frequently use 
the name of the order as their surname. Members of the 
Aranya, Sagara and Parbat orders are rarely met with at 

3 . initia- A notice of the Gosains who have become an ordinary 
tion - caste will be given later. Formerly only Brahmans or 

members of the twice-born castes could become Gosains, 
but now a man of any caste, as Kurmi, Kunbi or Mali, 
from whom a Brahman takes water, may be admitted. In 
some localities it is said that Gonds and Kols can now be 
made Gosains, and hence the social position of the Gosains 
has greatly fallen, and high- caste Hindus will not take 
water from them. It is supposed, however, that the Giri 
order is still recruited only from Brahmans. 

At initiation the body of a neophyte is cleaned with the 
five products of the sacred cow, milk, curds, g/iz, dung and 
urine. He drinks water in which the great toe of his guru 
has been dipped and eats the leavings of the latter's food, 
thus severing himself from his own caste. His sacred thread 
is taken off and broken, and it is sometimes burned and he 
eats the ashes. All the hair of his head is shaved, including 
the scalp-lock, which every secular Hindu wears. A mantra 
or text is then whispered or blown into his ear. 

4. Dress. The novice is dressed in a cloth coloured with geru or 

red ochre, such as the Gosains usually wear. It is probable 
that the red or pink colour is meant to symbolise blood and 
to signify that the Gosains allow the sacrifice of animals 
and the consumption of flesh, and on this account they are 
called Lai Padri or red priest, while Vishnuite mendicants, 
who dress in white, are called Slta Padri. He has a 
necklace or rosary of the seeds of the rudrakhsa tree, 1 
sacred to Siva, consisting of 32 or 64 beads. These are 
like nuts with a rough indented shell. On his forehead 
he marks with bhabhut or ashes three horizontal lines to 

1 Elaeocarptis. 

ii DRESS i S3 

represent the trident of Siva, or sometimes the eye of the 
god. Others make only two lines with a dot above or 
below, and this sign is said to represent the phallic emblem. 
A crescent moon or a triangle may also be made. 1 The 
marks are often made in sandalwood, and the Gosains say 
that the original sandalwood grows on a tree in the 
Himalayas, which is guarded by a great snake so that 
nobody can approach it ; but its scent is so strong that 
all the surrounding trees of the grove are scented with it 
and sandalwood is obtained from them. Those who 
worship Bhairon make a round mark with vermilion 
between the eyes, taking it from beneath the god's foot. 
A mendicant usually has a begging- bowl and a pair of 
tongs, which are useful for kindling a fire. Those who 
have visited Badrinath or one of the other Himalayan 
shrines have a ring of iron, brass or copper on the arm, 
often inscribed with the image of a deity. If they have 
been to the temple of Devi at Hinglaj in the Lasbela State 
of Beluchistan they have a necklace of little white stone 
beads called thumra ; and one who has made a pilgrimage 
to Rameshwaram at the extreme southern point of India 
has a ring of conch -shell on the wrist. When he can 
obtain it a Gosain also carries a tiger- or panther-skin, which 
he wears over his shoulders and uses to sit and lie down 
on. Among the ancient Greeks it was the custom to sleep 
in a temple or its avenue either on the bare ground or on 
the skin of a sacred animal, in order to obtain visions or 
appearances of the god in a dream or to be cured of 
diseases. 2 Formerly the Gosains were accustomed to go 
about naked, and at the religious festivals they would go 
in procession naked to bathe in the river. At Amarnath 
in the Punjab they would throw themselves naked on the 
block of ice which represented Siva. 3 The Naga Gosains, 
so called because they were once accustomed to go naked 
into battle, were a famous fighting corps. Though they 
shave the head and scalp-lock on initiation the Gosains 
usually let the hair grow, and either have it hanging down 

1 Mr. Marten's C.P. Census Report 3 Oman, Mystics, Ascetics and 

(191 1), p. 79. Saints, p. 269. 

- Orphhts, p. 137. 

i 5 4 GOSAIN part 

in matted locks over the shoulders, which gives them a 
wild and unkempt appearance, or wind it on the top of 
the head into a coil often thickened with strips of sheep's 
wool. They say that they let the hair grow in imitation of 
the ancient forest ascetics, who could not but let it grow as 
they had no means to shave it, and also of the matted locks 
of the god Siva. Sometimes they let the hair grow during 
the whole period of a pilgrimage, and on arrival at the shrine 
of their destination shave it off and offer it to the god. 
Those who are initiated on the banks of the Nerbudda 
5. Methods throw the hair cut from their head into the sacred river. 

They have various rules about begging. Some will 

and greet- J t>o & 

ings. never turn back to receive alms. They may also make a 

rule only to accept the surplus of food cooked for the 
family, and to refuse any of special quality or cooked 
expressly for them. One Gosain, noticed by Mr. A. K. 
Smith, always begged hopping, and only from five houses ; 
he took from them respectively two handfuls of flour, a 
pinch of salt, and sufficient quantities of vegetables, spices 
and butter for his meal, and then went hopping home. 
Those who are performing the perikrama or circuit of the 
Nerbudda from its source to its mouth and back, do not 
cut their hair or nails during the whole period of about 
three years. They may not enter the Nerbudda above 
their knees nor wash their vessels in it. After crossing any 
tributary river or stream in their path they may not re-cross 
this ; and if they have forgotten or left any article behind, 
must abandon it unless they can persuade somebody to go 
back and fetch it for them. Some carry a gourd with a 
single string stretched on a stick, on which they twang 
some notes ; others have a belt of sheep's hair hung with 
the bells of bullocks which they tie round the waist, so 
that the tinkling of the bells may announce their coming. A 
common begging cry is Alakh, which is said to mean ' apart,' 
and to refer to themselves as being apart or separated from the 
world. The beggar gives this cry and stands at the door of 
the house for half a minute, shaking his body about all the 
time. If no alms are brought in this time he moves on. 

When an ordinary Hindu meets a Gosain he says 
' Namu Narayan ' or ' I go to Narayan,' and the Gosain 


answers ' Narayan.' Narayan is a name of Vishnu, and its 
use by the Gosains is curious. Those who have performed 
the circuit of the Nerbudda say ' Har Nerbudda,' and the 
person addressed answers ' Nerbudda Mai ki Jai ' or ' Victory 
to Mother Nerbudda.' 

The Dandis are a special group of ascetics belonging 6. The 
to several of the ten orders. According to one account 
a novice who desires to become a Sanniasi must serve a 
period of probation for twelve years as a Dandi. Others 
say that only a Brahman can be a Dandi, while members 
of other castes may become Sanniasis, and a Brahman can 
only become one if he is without father, mother, wife or 
child. 1 The Dandi is so called because he has a dand or 
bamboo staff like the ancient Vedic students. He must 
always carry this and never lay it down, but when sleeping 
plant it in the ground. Sometimes a piece of red cloth is 
tied round the staff. The Dandi should live in the forest, 
and only come once a day to beg at a Brahman's house for a 
part of such food as the family may have cooked. He should 
not ask for food if any one else, even a dog, is waiting for it. 
He must not accept money, or touch fire or any metal. 
As a matter of fact these rules are disregarded, and the 
Dandi frequents towns and is accompanied by companions 
who will accept all kinds of alms on his behalf. 2 Dandis 
and Sanniasis do not worship idols, as they are themselves 
considered to have become part of the deity. They repeat 
the phrase ' Sevoham,' which signifies ' I am Siva.' 

Another curious class of Gosains are the Rawanvansis, 
who go about in the character of Rawan, the demon king of i- The 
Ceylon, as he was when he carried off Slta. The legend is vans j s . 
that in order to do this, Rawan first sent his brother in the 
shape of a golden deer before Rama's palace. Slta saw it 
and said she must have the head of the deer, and sent Rama 
to kill it. So Rama pursued it to the forest, and from there 
Rawan cried out, imitating Rama's voice. Then Slta 
thought Rama was being attacked and told his brother 
Lachman to go to his help. But Lachman had been left 

1 Bhattacharya, Hindu Castes and Mystics, Ascetics and Saints, pp. 160, 
Sects, p. 3 So. 161. 

- Bhattacharya, ibidem, and Oman, 

1 5 6 


8. Monas- 

9. The 


in charge of her by Rama and refused to leave her, till Sita 
said he was hoping Rama would be killed, so that he might 
marry her. Then he drew a circle round her on the ground, 
and telling her not to step outside it until his return, went 
off. Then Rawan took the disguise of a beggar and came 
and begged for alms from Sita. She told him to come 
inside the magic circle and she would give him alms, but he 
refused. So finally Sita came outside the circle, and Rawan 
at once seized her and carried her off to Ceylon. The 
Rawanvansi Gosains wear rings of hair all up their arms 
and a rope of hair round the waist, and the hair of their 
head hanging down. It would appear that they are 
intended to represent some animal. They smear vermilion 
on the forehead, and beg only at twilight and never at any 
other time, whether they obtain food or not. In begging 
they will never move backwards, so that when they have 
passed a house they cannot take alms from it unless the 
householder brings the gift to them. 

Unmarried Sanniasis often reside in Maths or monasteries. 
The superior is called Mahant, and he appoints his successor 
by will from the members. The Mahant admits all those 
willing and qualified to enter the order. If the applicant is 
young the consent of the parents is usually obtained ; and 
parents frequently vow to give a child to the order. Many 
convents have considerable areas of land attached to them, 
and also dependent institutions. The whole property of the 
convent and its dependencies seems to be at the absolute 
disposal of the Mahant, but he is bound to give food, raiment 
and lodging to the inmates, and he entertains all travellers 
belonging to the order. 1 

In former times the Gosains often became soldiers and 
entered the service of different military chiefs. The most 
famous of these fighting priests were the Naga Gosains of 
the Jaipur State of Rajputana, who are said to have been 
under an obligation from their guru or religious chief to 
fight for the Raja of Jaipur whenever required. They 
received rent-free lands and pay of two pice (|d.) a day, 
which latter was put into a common treasury and expended 
on the purchase of arms and ammunition whenever needed 

1 Buchanan, Eastern India, i. pp. 197, 198. 



for war. They would also lend money, and if a debtor 
could not pay would make him give his son to be enrolled 
in the force. The 7000 Naga Gosains were placed in the 
vanguard of the Jaipur army in battle. Their weapons 
were the bow, arrow, shield, spear and discus. The Gosain 
proprietor of the Deopur estate in Raipur formerly kept up 
a force of Naga Gosains, with which he used to collect the 
tribute from the feudatory chiefs of Chhattlsgarh on behalf of 
the Raja of Nagpur. It is said that he once invaded Bastar 
with this object, where most of the Gosains died of cholera. 
But after they had fasted for three days, the goddess 
Danteshwari appeared to them and promised them her 
protection. And they took the goddess away with them 
and installed her in their own village in Raipur. Forbes 
records that in Gujarat an English officer was in command 
of a troop known as the Gosain's wife's troops. These 
Naga Gosains wore only a single white garment, like a 
sleeveless shirt reaching to the knees, and hence it is said 
that they were called naked. The Gosains and Bairagis, or 
adherents of Siva and Vishnu, were often engaged in religious 
quarrels on the merits of their respective deities, and some- 
times came to blows. A favourite point of rivalry was the 
right of bathing first in the Ganges on the occasion of one 
of the great religious fairs at Allahabad or Hardwar. The 
Gosains claim priority of bathing, on the ground that the 
Ganges flows from the matted locks of Siva ; while the 
Bairagis assert that the source of the river is from Vishnu's 
foot. In 1760 a pitched battle on this question ended in 
the defeat of the Bairagis, of whom 1800 were slain. Again 
in 1796 the Gosains engaged in battle with the Sikh 
pilgrims and were defeated with the loss of 500 men. 1 
During the reign of Akbar a combat took place in the 
Emperor's presence between the two Sivite sects of Gosains, 
or Sanniasis and Jogis, having been apparently arranged for 
his edification, to decide which sect had the best ground for 
its pretensions to supernatural power. The Jogis were 
completely defeated. 2 

1 Nesfield, Brief View of the Caste Superstitions of India (London, T. 
System, p. 86. Fisher Unwin), p. 11. 

2 J. C. Oman, Cults, Customs and 

I5 8 GO SAIN part 

10. Burial. A dead Sanniasi is always buried in the sitting attitude 

of religious contemplation with the legs crossed. The grave 
may be dug with a side receptacle for the corpse so that the 
earth, on being filled in, does not fall on it The corpse is 
bathed and rubbed with ashes and clad in a new reddish- 
coloured shirt, with a rosary round the neck. The begging- 
wallet with some flour and pulse are placed in the grave, 
and also a gourd and staff. Salt is put round the body to 
preserve it, and an earthen pot is put over the head. 
Sometimes cocoanuts are broken on the skull, to crack it 
and give exit to the soul. Perhaps the idea of burial and 
of preserving the corpse with salt is that the body of an 
ascetic does not need to be purified by fire from the appetites 
and passions of the flesh like that of an ordinary Hindu ; it 
is already cleansed of all earthly frailty by his austerities, 
and the belief may therefore have originally been that such 
a man would carry his body with him to the afterworld or 
to absorption with the deity. The burial of a Sanniasi is 
often accompanied with music and signs of rejoicing ; Mr. 
Oman describes such a funeral in which the corpse was 
seated in a litter, open on three sides so that it could be 
seen ; it was tied to the back of the litter, and garlands of 
flowers partly covered the body, but could not conceal the 
hideousness of death as the unconscious head rolled helplessly 
from side to side with the movement of the litter. The 
procession was headed by a European brass band and by 
men carrying censers of incense. 1 
Sexual Celibacy is the rule of the Gosain orders, and a man's 

property passes in inheritance to a selected chela or disciple. 
But the practice of keeping women is very common, even 
outside the large section of the community which now 
recognises marriage. Women could be admitted into the 
order, when they had to shave their heads, assume the ochre- 
coloured shirt and rub their bodies with ashes. Afterwards, 
with the permission of the guru and on payment of a fine, they 
could let their hair grow again, at least temporarily. These 
women were supposed to remain quite chaste and live in 
nunneries, but many of them lived with men of the order. 
It is not known to what extent women are admitted at 

1 Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India, pp. 156, 157. 



present. The sons born of such unions would be adopted 
as chelas or disciples by other Gosains, and made their heirs 
by a reciprocal arrangement. Women who are convicted of 
some social offence, or who wish to leave their husbands, 
often join the order nominally and live with a Gosain or are 
married into the caste. Many of the wandering mendicants 
lead an immoral life, and scandals about their enticing away 
the wives of rich Hindus are not infrequent. 1 During their 
visits to villages the)/ also engage in intrigues, and a ribald Gond 
song sung at the Holi festival describes the pleasure of the 
village women at the arrival of a Gosain owing to the sexual 
gratification which they expected to receive from him. 

Nevertheless the wandering Gosains have done much to 12. Mis- 
foster and maintain the Hindu religion among the people. sum **y 
They are the gurus or spiritual preceptors of the middle and 
lower castes, and though their teaching may be of little 
advantage, it perhaps quickens and maintains to some extent 
the religious feelings of their clients. In former times the 
Gosains travelled over the wildest tracts of country, pro- 
selytising the primitive non-Aryan tribes, for whose conversion 
to Hinduism they are largely responsible. On such journeys 
they necessarily carried their lives in their hands, and not 
infrequently lost them. 

The majority of the Gosains are, however, now married 13. The 
and form an ordinary caste. Buchanan states that the ten c .°te' n 
different orders became exogamous groups, the members of 
which married with each other, but it is doubtful whether 
this is the case at present. It is said that all Giri Gosains 
marry, whether they are mendicants or not, while the Bharthi 
order can marry or not as they please. They prohibit any 
marriage between first cousins, but permit widow remarriage 
and divorce. They eat the flesh of all clean animals and also of 
fowls, and drink liquor, and will take cooked food from the 
higher castes, including Sunars and Kunbis. Hence they do 
not rank high socially, and Brahmans do not take water from 
them, but their religious character gives them some prestige. 
Many Gosains have become landholders, obtaining their 
estates either as charitable grants from clients or through 
moneylending transactions. In this capacity they do not 

1 Sir E. Maclagan, Punjab Census Report (1S91), p. 112. 



usually turn out ,/ell, and are often considered harsh land- 
lords and grasping creditors. 

Origin Gowari. 1 — The herdsman or grazier caste of the Maratha 

of the country, corresponding to the Ahirs or Gaolis. The name is 
derived from gai or gao, the cow, and means a cowherd. 
The Gowaris numbered more than 150,000 persons in 191 1, 
of whom nearly 120,000 belonged to the Nagpur division 
and nearly 30,000 to Berar. In localities where the 
Gowaris predominate, Ahirs or Gaolis, the regular herdsman 
caste, are found only in small numbers. The honorific title 
of the Gowaris is Dhare, which is said to mean ' One who 
keeps cattle.' The Gowaris rank distinctly below the Ahirs 
or Gaolis. The legend of their origin is that an Ahlr, 
who was tending the cows of Krishna, stood in need of a 
helper. He found a small boy in the forest and took him 
home and brought him up. He then gave to the boy the 
work of grazing cows in the jungle, while he himself stayed 
at home and made milk and butter. This boy was the 
ancestor of the Gowari caste. His descendants took to 
eating fowls and peacocks and drinking liquor, and hence 
were degraded below the Gaolis. But the latter will allow 
Gowaris to sit at their feasts and eat, they will carry the 
corpse of a Gowari to the grave, and they will act as 
members of the panchdyat in readmitting a Gowari who has 
been put out of caste. In the Maratha country any man 
who touches the corpse of a man of another caste is 
temporarily excommunicated, and the fact that a Gaoli will 
do this for a Gowari demonstrates the close relationship of 
the castes. The legend, in fact, indicates quite clearly and 
correctly the origin of the Gowaris. The small boy in the 
forest was a Gond, and the Gowari caste is of mixed descent 
from Ahirs and Gonds. The Ahirs or Gaolis of the Maratha 
country have largely abandoned the work of grazing cattle 
in the forest, and have taken to the more profitable business 
of making milk and ghi. The herdsman's duties have been 
relegated to the mixed class of Gowaris, produced from the 
unions of Ahirs and Gonds in the forests, and not improbably 

1 This article is based on notes by Mr. Percival, Assistant Conservator of 
Forests, and Rai Bahadur Hira Lai. 


including a considerable section of pure Gond blood. At 
present only Gaolis and no other caste are admitted into 
the Gowari community, though there is evidence that the 
rule was not formerly so strict. 

The Gowaris have three divisions, the Gai Gowari, Inga, 2. s u t> 
and Maria or Gond Gowari. The Gai or cow Gowaris are castes - 
the highest and probably have more Gaoli blood in them. 
The Inga and Maria or Gond Gowaris are more directly 
derived from the Gonds. Maria is the name given to a 
large section of the Gond tribe in Chanda. Both the other 
two subcastes will take cooked food from the Gai Gowaris 
and the Gond Gowaris from the Inga, but the Inga subcaste 
will not take it from the Gond, nor the Gai Gowaris from 
either of the other two. The Gond Gowaris have been 
treated as a distinct caste and a separate article is given on 
them, but at the census Mr. Marten has amalgamated them 
with the Gowaris. This is probably more correct, as they are 
locally held to be a branch of the caste. But their customs 
differ in some points from those of the other Gowaris. They 
will admit outsiders from any respectable caste and worship 
the Gond gods, 1 and there seems no harm, therefore, in 
allowing the separate article on them to remain. 

The Gowaris have exogamous sections of the titular 3- Totem- 
and totemistic types, such as Chachania from chachan, a ^^ 
bird, Lohar from loJia iron, Ambadare a mango-branch, 
Kohria from the Kohri or Kohli caste, Sarwaina a Gond 
sept, and Rawat the name of the Ahlr caste in Chhattlsgarh. 
Some septs do not permit intermarriage between their 
members, saying that they are Dudh-Bhais or foster-brothers, 
born from the same mother. Thus the Chachania, Kohria, 
Senwaria, Sendua (vermilion) and Wagare (tiger) septs 
cannot intermarry. They say that their fathers were 
different, but their mothers were related or one and the same. 
This is apparently a relic of polyandry, and it is possible 
that in some cases the Gonds may have allowed Ahirs 
sojourning in the forest to have access to their wives during 
the period of their stay. If this was permitted to Ahirs 
of different sections coming to the same Gond village in 
successive years, the offspring might be the ancestors of 

1 For further details see article on Gond Gowari. 
VOL. Ill M 


162 GOWARI part 

sections who consider themselves to be related to each 
other in the manner of the Gowari sections. 

Marriage is prohibited within the same section or kur, and 
between sections related to each other as Dudh-Bhais in the 
manner explained above. A man can marry his daughter to 
his sister's son, but cannot take her daughter for his son. 
The children of two sisters cannot be married. 
4. Mar- Girls are usually married after attaining maturity, and 

a bride-price is paid which is normally two kliandis (800 lbs.) 
of grain, Rs. 16 to 20 in cash, and a piece of cloth. The 
auspicious date of the wedding is calculated by a Mahar 
Mohturia or soothsayer. Brahmans are not employed, the 
ceremony being performed by the bJianya or sister's son of 
either the girl's father or the boy's father. If he is not 
available, any one whom either the girl's father or the boy's 
father addresses as bhdnja or nephew in the village, accord- 
ing to the common custom of addressing each other by terms 
of relationship, even though he may be no relative and 
belong to another caste, may be substituted ; and if no such 
person is available a son-in-law of either of the parties. 
The peculiar importance thus attached to the sister's son 
as a relation is probably a relic of the matriarchate, when 
a man's sister's son was his heir. The substitution of a 
son-in-law who might inherit in the absence of a sister's 
son perhaps strengthens this view. The wedding is held 
mainly according to the Maratha ritual. 1 The procession 
goes to the girl's house, and the bridegroom is wrapped in 
a blanket and carries a spear, in the absence of which the 
wedding cannot be held. A spear is also essential among 
the Gonds. The ancestors of the caste are invited to the 
wedding by beating a drum and calling on them to attend. 
The original ancestors are said to be Kode Kodwan, the names 
of two Gond gods, Baghoba (the tiger-god), and Meghnath, 
son of Rawan, the demon king of Ceylon, after whom the 
Gonds are called Rawanvansi, or descendants of Rawan. 
The wedding costs about Rs. 50, all of which is spent by 
the boy's father. The girl's father only gives a feast to the 
caste out of the amount which he receives as bride -price. 
Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted. 
1 See article on Kunbi. 


The dead are either buried or burnt, burial being more 5. Funeral 
common. The corpse is laid with head to the south and ntes ' 
feet to the north. On returning from the funeral they go 
and drink at the liquor-shop, and then kill a cock on the 
spot where the deceased died, and offer some meat to his 
spirit, placing it outside the house. The caste-fellows sit 
and wait until a crow comes and pecks at the food, when 
they think that the deceased has enjoyed it, and begin to 
eat themselves. If no crow comes before night the food 
may be given to a cow, and the party can then begin to 
eat. When the next wedding is held in the family, the 
deceased is brought down from the skies and enshrined 
among the deified ancestors. 

The principal deities of the Gowaris are the Kode 6. Reii- 
Kodwan or deified ancestors. They are worshipped at the g101 
annual festivals, and also at weddings. When a man or 
woman dies without children their spirits are known as 
Dhal, and are worshipped in the families to which they 
belonged. A male Dhal is represented by a stick of bamboo 
with one cross-piece at the top, and a female Dhal by a 
stick with two others crossing each other lashed to it at the 
top. These sticks are worshipped at the Diwali festival, 
and carried in procession. Dudhera is a godling worshipped 
for the protection of cattle. He is represented by a clay 
horse placed near a white ant-hill. If a cow stops giving 
milk her udder is smoked with the burning wood of a tree 
called sdnwal, and this is supposed to drive away the spirits 
who drink the milk from the udder. All Gowaris revere the 
haryal, or green pigeon. They say that it gives a sound 
like a Gowari calling his cows, and that it is a kinsman. 
They would on no account kill this bird. They say that 
the cows will go to a tree from which green pigeons are 
cooing, and that on one occasion when a thief was driving 
away their cows a green pigeon cooed from a tree, and 
the cows turned round and came back again. This is like 
the story of the sacred geese at Rome, who gave warning 
of the attack of the Goths. 

The head of the caste committee is known as Shendia, 7. Caste 
from shendi, a scalp-lock or pig-tail, perhaps because he is ™^ s the 
at the top of the caste as the scalp-lock is at the top of the panchayat. 

1 64 GO WAR I part 

head. The Shendia is elected, and holds office for life. 
He has to readmit offenders into caste by being the first 
to eat and drink with them, thus taking their sins on him- 
self. On such occasions it is necessary to have a little 
opium, which is mixed with sugar and water, and distributed 
to all members of the caste. If the quantity is insufficient 
for every one to drink, the man responsible for preparing it is 
fined, and this mixture, especially the opium, is indispensable 
on all such occasions. The custom indicates that a sacred 
or sacrificial character is attributed to the opium, as the 
drinking of the mixture together is the sign of the readmis- 
sion of a temporary outcaste into the community. After 
this has been drunk he becomes a member of the caste, 
even though he may not give the penalty feast for some time 
afterwards. The Ahlrs and Sunars of the Maratha country 
have the same rite of purification by the common drinking 
of opium and water. A caste penalty is incurred for the 
removal of bital or impurity arising from the usual offences, 
and among others for touching the corpse of a man of any 
other caste, or of a buffalo, horse, cow, cat or dog, for using 
abusive language to a casteman at any meeting or feast, and 
for getting up from a caste feast without permission from 
the headman. For touching the corpse of a prohibited 
animal and for going to jail a man has to get his head, 
beard and whiskers shaved. If a woman becomes with 
child by a man of another caste, she is temporarily expelled, 
but can be readmitted after the child has been born and 
she has disposed of it to somebody else. Such children 
are often made over for a few rupees to Muhammadans, 
who bring them up as menial servants in their families, or, 
if they have no child of their own, sometimes adopt them. 
On readmission a lock of the woman's hair is cut off. In 
the same case, if no child is born of the liaison, the woman 
is taken back with the simple penalty of a feast. Permanent 
expulsion is imposed for taking food from, or having an 
intrigue with a member of an impure caste as Madgi, Mehtar, 
Pardhan, Mahar and Mang. 
8. Social The Gowaris eat pork, fowls, rats, lizards and peacocks, 

stoms. anc j abstain only from beef and the flesh of monkeys, 
crocodiles and jackals. They will take food from a Mana, 


Marar or Kohli, and water from a Gond. Kunbis will take 
water from them, and Gonds, Dhlmars and Dhobis will 
accept cooked food. All Gowari men are tattooed with a 
straight vertical line on the forehead, and many of them 
have the figures of a peacock, deer or horse on the right 
shoulder or on both shoulders. A man without the mark 
on the forehead will scarcely be admitted to be a true 
Gowari, and would have to prove his birth before he was 
allowed to join a caste feast. Women are tattooed with a 
pattern of straight and crooked lines on the right arm 
below the elbow, which they call Slta's arm. They have 
a vertical line standing on a horizontal one on the forehead, 
and dots on the temples. 



i. Historical notice of the caste. 4. Subdivisions. 

2. The Giijars a?id the Khazars. 5. Marriage. 

3. Predatory character of the 6. Disposal of the dead. 

Giijars in Northern India. 7. Religion. 

8. Character. 

1. Histori- Gujar. — A great historical caste who have given their 

cai notice name to the Gujarat District and the town of Gujaranwala 
caste. in the Punjab, the peninsula of Gujarat or Kathiawar and 

the tract known as Gujargarh in Gvvalior. In the Central 
Provinces the Giijars numbered 56,000 persons in 191 1, of 
whom the great majority belonged to the Hoshangabad and 
Nimar Districts. In these Provinces the caste is thus 
practically confined to the Nerbudda Valley, and they 
appear to have come here from Gwalior probably in the 
middle of the sixteenth century, to which period the first 
important influx of Hindus into this area has been ascribed. 
But some of the Nimar Giijars are immigrants from Gujarat. 
Owing to their distinctive appearance and character and 
their exploits as cattle-raiders, the origin of the Giijars has 
been the subject of much discussion. General Cunningham 
identified them with the Yueh-chi or Tochari, the tribe of 
Indo-Scythians who invaded India in the first century of 
the Christian era. The king Kadphises 1. and his successors 
belonged to the Kushan section of the Yueh-chi tribe, and 
their rule extended over north-western India down to 
Gujarat in the period 45-225 A.D. Mr. V. A. Smith, 
however, discards this theory and considers the Gujars or 
Gurjaras to have been a branch of the white Huns who 



* invaded India in the fifth and sixth centuries. He writes : J 
" The earliest foreign immigration within the limits of the 
historical period which can be verified is that of the Sakas 
in the second century B.C. ; and the next is that of the 
Yueh-chi and Kushans in the first century A.u. Probably 
none of the existing Rajput clans can carry back their 
genuine pedigrees so far. The third recorded great irrup- 
tion of foreign barbarians occurred during the fifth century 
and the early part of the sixth. There arc indications that 
the immigration from Central Asia continued during the 
third century, but, if it did, no distinct record of the event 
has been preserved, and, so far as positive knowledge goes, 
only three certain irruptions of foreigners on a large scale 
through the northern and north-western passes can be 
proved to have taken place within the historical period 
anterior to the Muhammadan invasions of the tenth and 
eleventh centuries. The first and second, as above observed, 
were those of the Sakas and Yueh-chi respectively, and the 
third was that of the Hunas or white Huns. It seems to be 
clearly established that the Hun group of tribes or hordes 
made their principal permanent settlements in the Punjab 
and Rajputana. The most important element in the group 
after the Huns themselves was that of the Gurjaras, whose 
name still survives in the spoken form Gujar as the designa- 
tion of a widely diffused middle-class caste in north-western 
India. The prominent position occupied by Gurjara 
kingdoms in early mediaeval times is a recent discovery. 
The existence of a small Gurjara principality in Bharoch 
(Broach), and of a larger state in Rajputana, has been 
known to archaeologists for many years, but the recognition 
of the fact that Bhoja and the other kings of the powerful 
Kanauj dynasty in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries 
were Gurjaras is of very recent date and is not yet general. 
Certain misreadings of epigraphic dates obscured the true 
history of that dynasty, and the correct readings have been 
established only within the last two or three years. It 
is now definitely proved that Bhoja {arc. A.D. 840-890), 
his predecessors and successors belonged to the Pratihara 
(Parihar) clan of the Gurjara tribe or caste, and, consequently, 

1 Early History of India, 3rd ed. pp. 409, 411. 

1 68 GUJAR part 

that the well-known clan of Parihar Rajputs is a branch of 
the Gurjara or Gujar stock." l 
2. The Sir J. Campbell identified the Gujars with the Khazar 

Gujars tribe of Central Asia : 2 " What is known of the early 
Khazars. history of the Gujaras in India points to their arrival 
during the last quarter of the fifth or the first quarter of 
the sixth century (a.D. 470-520). That is the Gujaras 
seem to have formed part of the great horde of which the 
Juan-Juan or Avars, and the Ephthalites, Yetas or White 
Hunas were leading elements. The question remains : 
How far does the arrival of the Gujara in India, during 
the early sixth century, agree with what is known of the 
history of the Khazar ? The name Khazar appears under 
the following forms : Among Chinese as Kosa, among 
Russians as Khwalisses, among Byzantines as Chozars or 
Chazars, among Armenians as Khazirs and among Arabs as 
Khozar. Other variations come closer to Gujara. These 
are Gazar, the form Kazar takes to the north of the sea of 
Asof ; Ghysar, the name for Khazars who have become Jews ; 
and Ghusar, the form of Khazar in use among the Lesghians 
of the Caucasus. Howarth and the writer in the Encyclopedia 
Britannica follow Klaproth in holding that the Khazars are 
the same as the White Hunas. . . . 

" Admitting that the Khazar and White Huna are one, it 
must also be the case that the Khazars included two distinct 
elements, a fair or Ak-Khazar, the Akatziroi or Khazaroi of 
Byzantine historians, and a dark or Kara Khazar. The 
Kara Khazar was short, ugly and as black as an Indian. 
He was the Ughrian nomad of the steppes, who formed the 
rank and file of the army. The White Khazar or White 
Huna was fair-skinned, black -haired and beautiful, their 
women (in the ninth and tenth centuries) being sought after 
in the bazars of Baghdad and Byzantium. According to 
Klaproth, a view adopted by the writer in the Encyclopedia 
Britannica, the White Khazar represented the white race 

1 Mr. Smith ascribes this discovery Kielhorn's paper on the Gwalior In- 
to Messrs. A. M. T. Jackson {Bombay scription of Mihira Bhoja in a German 
Gazetteer, vol. i. Part I., 1896, p. journal. 

467) ; D. R. Bhandarkar, Gurjaras {J. 2 Bombay Gazetteer, Hindus of 

Bo. B.A.S. vol. xx.) ; and Epigraphic Gujarat, Appendix B, The Gujars. 
Notes {ibidem, vol. xxi.) ; and Professor 


which, since before Christ, has been settled round the Caspian. 
As White Hunas, Ephthalites, 1 White Ughrians and White 
Bulgars, this white race were the carriers between Europe 
and East Asia ; they were also the bearers of the brunt of 
the Tartar inroads. A trace both of the beautiful and 
coarse clans seems to survive in the complimentary Marwar 
proverb, ' Handsome as a Huna,' and in the abusive Gujarat 
proverb, 'Yellow and short as a Huna's beard.' Under its 
Hindu form Gurjara, Khazar appears to have become the 
name by which the great bulk of the sixth -century horde 
was known." Sir J. Campbell was of opinion that the 
Sesodia or Gahlot Rajputs, the most illustrious of all the 
clans, were of Gujar stock, as well as the Parihar, Chauhan, 
and Chalukya or Solanki ; these last were three of the 
Agnikula clans or those created from the firepit, 2 and a 
Solanki dynasty ruled in Gujarat. He also considered the 
Nagar Brahmans of Gujarat to be derived from the Gujars 
and considerable sections of the AhTr and Kunbi castes. 
The Badgujar (great Gujar) clan of Rajputs is no doubt 
also an aristocratic branch of the caste. In Ajmere it is said 
that though- all Gujars are not Rajputs, no Rajput becomes 
a hero unless he is suckled by a Gujar woman. Giijarika 
dudh, nahari ka dudli ; or ' Gujar's milk is tiger's milk.' A 
Rajput who has not been suckled by a Gujar woman is a 
gidar or jackal. 3 

The fact of the White Huns being tall and of fine features, 3. Preda- 
in contrast to the horde which invaded Europe under Attila, ^"j 
accounts for these characteristics being found among the of the 
highest Rajput clans, who, as has been seen, are probably nor J tbern 
derived from them. The Gujar caste generally is now, India. 
however, no doubt of mixed and impure blood. They were 
distinguished in the past as vagrant and predatory marauders, 
and must have assimilated various foreign elements. 
Mr. Crooke writes of them : 4 " The Gujars as a tribe 
have always been noted for their turbulence and habit of 

1 The Khazars were known to the 2 See article on Panwar Rajput, 

Chinese as Yetas, the beginning of para. 1. 

Yeta-i-li-to, the name of their ruling 3 Campbell, loc. fit. p. 495. 

family, and the nations of the west 4 Tribes and Castes, article Gujar, 

altered this to Hyatilah and Ephthalite. para. 12. The description is mainly 

Campbell, ibidem. taken from Elliott's History of India as 

told bv its own Historians. 


cattle-stealing. Babar in his Memoirs describes how the 
commander of the rearguard captured a few Gujar ruffians 
who followed the camp, decapitated them and sent their 
heads to the Emperor. The Gujars of Pali and Pahal 
became exceedingly audacious while Sher Shah was 
fortifying Delhi, and he marched to the hills and expelled 
them so that not a vestige of their habitations was left. 
Jahanglr remarks that the Gujars live chiefly on milk and 
curds and seldom cultivate land ; and Babar says : 
' Every time I entered Hindustan the Jats and Gujars have 
regularly poured down in prodigious numbers from the 
hills and wilds to carry off oxen and buffaloes. These 
were the wretches that really inflicted the chief hardships 
and were guilty of the chief oppression in the country.' 
They maintained their old reputation in the Mutiny when 
they perpetrated numerous outrages and seriously impeded 
the operations of the British Army before Delhi." In 
northern India the Gujars are a pastoral caste. The 
saying about them is — 

Ahir, Gadaria, Gujar, 
♦ E tinon taken ujar, 

or, ' The Ahir, Gadaria and Gujar want waste land ' ; that is for 
grazing their flocks. In Kangra the Gujars generally keep 
buffaloes. Here they are described as " A fine, manly race 
with peculiar and handsome features. They are mild and 
inoffensive in manner, and in these hills are not distinguished 
by the bad pre-eminence which attaches to their race in the 
plains." 1 Sir D. Ibbetson had a very unfavourable opinion 
of the Gujars of the plains, of whom he wrote as follows : 2 
" The Gujar is a fine stalwart fellow, of precisely the same 
physical type as the Jat ; and the theory of aboriginal 
descent which has been propounded is to my mind con- 
clusively negatived by his cast of countenance. He is of 
the same social standing as the Jat, or perhaps slightly 
inferior ; but the two eat and drink in common without any 
scruple, and the proverb says : ' The Jat, Gujar, Ahir and 
Gola are all hail fellow well met' But he is far inferior 

1 Description of the Kangra Gujars Punjab Census Report {\&&i), para. 481. 
by Mr. Barnes. Quoted in Ibbetson's - Census Report, para. 4S1. 

1 1 S UBDI VISIONS 1 7 1 

in both personal character and repute to the J at. He is 
lazy to a degree, and a wretched cultivator ; his women, 
though not secluded, will not do field - work save of the 
lightest kind ; while his fondness for cattle extends to 
those of other people. The difference between a Gujar 
and a Rajput cattle - thief was once explained to me 
thus by a Jat : ' The Rajput will steal your buffalo. But he 
will not send his old father to say he knows where it is and 
will get it back for Rs. 20, and then keep the Rs. 20 and 
the buffalo too. The Gujar will.' " 

The Gujars of the Central Provinces have, however, 4- -^ ub - 
entirely given up the predatory habits of their brethren in 
northern India and have developed into excellent cultivators 
and respectable law-abiding citizens. In Hoshangabad they 
have three subcastes, Lekha, Mundle and Jadam. The 
Mundle or ' Shaven ' are so called because they take off 
their turbans when they eat and expose their crowns bare 
of hair, while the Lekha eat with their turbans on. The 
Mundle are also known as Rewe, from the Rewa or 
Nerbudda, near which they reside. The Jadam are 
probably an offshoot from the cultivating caste of 
Hoshangabad of that name, Jadam being a corruption of 
Jadubansi, a tribe of Rajputs. The Badgujars, who belong 
to Nimar, consider themselves the highest, deriving their 
name from bara or 'great' Gujar. As already seen, there is 
a Badgujar clan of Rajputs. The Nimar Badgujars, however, 
were formerly engaged in the somewhat humble calling of 
clearing cotton of its seeds, and on this account they are 
also known as Ludhare, the word lodhna meaning to work 
the hand-ginning machine (charkht). It seems possible that 
the small caste of Lorhas of the Hoshangabad District, 
whose special avocation is to grow san - hemp, may be 
derived from these Ludhare Gujars. The Kekre or Kanwe 
subcaste are the lowest and are of illegitimate descent. 
They are known as Kekre or ' Crabs,' but prefer their other 
name. They will take food from the other subcastes, but 
these do not return the compliment. Another group in the 
Sohagpur Tahsll of Hoshangabad are the Lilorhia Gujars. 
They say that their ancestors were grazing calves when 
some of them with their herdsmen were stolen by Brahma. 

172 GUJAR part 

Then Krishna created fresh cowherds and the Lilorhias 
were made from the sweat of his forehead (lilat). After- 
wards Brahma restored the original cowherds, who were 
known as Murelia, because they were the first 
players on the murli or flute. 1 The Badgujars or highest 
branch of the clan are descendants of these Murelias. 
The caste have also a set of exogamous groups, several of 
which bear the names of Rajput clans, while others are 
called after villages, titles or nicknames or natural objects. 
A man is not permitted to marry any one belonging either 
to his own sept or that of his mother or grandmother. 
s. Mar- At a Gujar wedding four plough-yokes are laid out to 

nage. f orm a square under the marriage booth, with a copper pot 
full of water in the centre. At the auspicious moment the 
bride's hand is placed on that of the bridegroom, and the 
two walk seven times round the pot, the bridegroom leading 
for the first four rounds and the bride for the last three. 
Widows are allowed to remarry, and, as girls are rather 
scarce in the caste, a large price is often paid for the widow 
to her father or guardian, though this is not willingly 
admitted. As much as Rs. 3000 is recorded to have been 
paid. A widow marriage is known as Natra or Pat. A 
woman is forbidden to marry any relative of her first 
husband. When the marriage of a widow is to take place 
a fee of Rs. 1-4 must be paid to the village proprietor to 
obtain his consent. The Gujars of the Bulandshahr 
District of the United Provinces furnish, Mr. Crooke says, 2 
perhaps the only well - established instance of polyandry 
among the Hindus of the plains. Owing to the scarcity of 
women in the caste it was customary for the wife of one 
brother, usually the eldest, to be occasionally at the disposal 
of other unmarried brothers living in the house. The custom 
arose owing to the lack of women caused by the prevalence 
of female infanticide, and now that this has been stopped it 
is rapidly dying out, while no trace of it is believed to 
exist in the Central Provinces. 
6. Disposal The bodies of unmarried persons are buried, and also 

of the 

dead. . * 

1 Cf. Krishna s epithet of Murhdhar and shepherds in Greek and Roman 

or the flute-player, and the general mythology. 

association of the flute with herdsmen 2 Ibidem. 


ii RELIGION i 73 

of those who die of any epidemic disease. Others 
are cremated. The funeral of an elderly man of good 
means and family is an occasion for great display. A 
large feast is given and the Brahman priests of the 
caste go about inviting all the Gujars to attend. Some- 
times the number of guests rises to three or four thousand. 
At the conclusion of the feast one of the hosts claps 
his hands and all the guests then get up and im- 
mediately depart without ceremony or saying farewell. 
Such an occasion is known as Gujarwada, and the Gujars 
often spend as much, or more, on a funeral as on a wedding, 
in the belief that the outlay is of direct benefit to the 
dead man's spirit. This idea is inculcated and diligently 
fostered by the family priests and those Brahmans who 
receive gifts for the use of the dead, the greed of these 
cormorants being insatiable. 

The household goddess of the caste is known as Kul 7 . Re 
Devi, the word kul meaning family. To her a platform is llg 
erected inside the house, and she must be worshipped by 
the members of the family alone, no stranger being present. 
Offerings of cocoanuts, rice, turmeric and flowers are made 
to her, but no animal sacrifices. When a son of the family 
dies unmarried, an image of him, known as Mujia, is made 
on a piece of silver, copper or brass, and is worshipped on 
Mondays and Fridays during the month of Magh (January). 
On one of these days also a feast is given to the caste. 
Each member of the caste has a guru or spiritual preceptor, 
who visits him every second or third year and receives a 
small present of a cocoanut or a piece of cloth. But he 
does not seem to perform any duties. The guru may 
belong to any of the religious mendicant castes. A man 
who is without a guru is known as Nugra and is looked 
down on. To meet him in the morning is considered un- 
lucky and portends misfortune. Sir C. Elliot l characterised 
the Mundle Gujars as " A very religious race ; they never 
plough on the new moon nor on the 8 th of the month, 
because it is Krishna's birthday. Their religious and social 
head is the Mahant of the Ramjidas temple at Hoshangabad." 
In Nimar many of the Gujars belong to the Pirzada sect, 
1 Hoshangabad Settlement Report, para. 16. 



which is a kind of reformed creed, based on a mixture of 
Hinduism and Islam. 
8. Char- The Gujars wear the dress of northern India and their 

women usually have skirts (lahenga) and not saris or body- 
cloths. Married women have a number of strings of black 
beads round the neck and widows must change these for 
red ones. As a rule neither men nor women are tattooed. 
The men sometimes have their hair long and wear beards 
and whiskers. The Gujars are now considered the best 
cultivators of the Nimar District. They are fond of 
irrigation and sink unfaced wells to water their land and 
get a second crop off it. They are generally prosperous 
and make good landlords. Members of the caste have the 
custom of lending and borrowing among themselves and not 
from outsiders, and this no doubt conduces to mutual 
economy and solvency. Like keen cultivators elsewhere, 
such as the Pan wars and Kurmis, the Gujar sets store by 
having a good house and good cattle. The return from a 
Mundle Gujar's wedding, Captain Forsyth wrote, 1 is a sight 
to be seen. Every Gujar from far and near has come with 
his whole family in his best bullock-cart gaily ornamented, 
and, whatever the road may be, nothing but a smash will 
prevent a breakneck race homewards at full gallop, cattle 
which have won in several such races acquiring a much 
coveted reputation throughout the District. 

1 Nimar Settlement Report (1868). 



i . Origin of the caste. 4. Birth customs. 

2. Internal structure. 5. The sacred thread. 

3. Marriage and ceremonies 6. Funeral customs. 

of adolescence. 7. Social position. 

8. The fain Guraos. 

Gurao. 1 — A caste of village priests of the temples of 1. Origin 
Mahadeo in the Maratha Districts. They numbered about ° as l te e 
14,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berar in 191 1. 
The Guraos say that they were formerly Brahmans and 
worshippers of Siva, but for some negligence or mistake in 
his ritual they were cursed by the god and degraded from 
the status of Brahmans, though subsequently the god 
relented and permitted them to worship him and take the 
offerings made to him. 

It is related that a certain Brahman, who was a votary 
of Siva, had to go on a journey. He left his son behind 
and strictly enjoined on him to perform the worship of the 
god at midday. The son had bathed and purified himself 
for this purpose, when shortly before midday his wife 
came to him and so importuned him to have conjugal 
intercourse with her that he was obliged to comply. It 
was then midday and in his impure condition the son went 
to the shrine of the god to worship him. But Siva cursed 
him and said that his descendants should be degraded from 
the status of Brahmans, though he afterwards relented so 
far as to permit of their continuing to act as his priests ; 
and this was the origin of the Guraos. It seems doubtful, 

1 This article is based partly on a Aduram Chaudhri of the Gazetteer 
paper by Mr. Abdus Subhan Khan, Office. 
Tahsildar, Hinganghat, and Mr. 


i 7 6 GURAO part 

however, whether the caste are really of Brahman origin. 
They were formerly village priests, and Grant-Duff gives 
the Gurao as one of the village menials in the Maratha 
villages. They have the privilege of taking the Naivedya 
or offerings of cooked food made to the god Mahadeo, which 
Brahmans will not accept. They also sell leaf-plates and 
flowers and bel leaves 1 which are offered at the temples of 
Mahadeo ; and on the festival of Shivratri and during the 
month of Shrawan (July) they take round the bel leaves which 
the cultivators require for their offerings and receive presents 
in return. In Wardha the Guraos get small gifts of grain 
from the cultivators at seed-time and harvest. They also act 
as village musicians and blow the conch-shell, beat the drum 
and play other musical instruments for the morning and 
evening worship at the temple. They play on the cymbals 
and drums at the marriages of Brahmans and other high 
castes. In the Bombay Presidency 2 some are astrologers 
and fortune-tellers, and others make the basing or coronet 
of flowers which the bridegroom wears. Sometimes they 
play on the drum or fiddle for their spiritual followers, the 
dancing-girls or Kalavants. When a dancing-girl became 
pregnant she worshipped the Gurao, and he, in return, 
placed the missi or tooth-powder made from myrobalans 
on her teeth. If this was not done before her child was 
born, a Kalavantin was put out of caste. In some localities 
the Guraos will take food from Kunbis. And further, as 
will be seen subsequently, the caste have no proper golras 
or exogamous sections, but in arranging their marriages they 
simply avoid persons having a common surname. All 
these considerations point to the fact that the caste is not 
of Brahmanical origin but belongs to a lower class of the 
population. Nevertheless in Wardha they are known as 
Shaiva Brahmans and rank above the Kunbis. They may 
study the Sama Veda only and not the others, and may 
repeat the Rudra Gayatri or sacred verse of Siva. Clearly 
the Brahmans could not accept the offerings of cooked food 
made at Siva's shrine ;. though the larger temples of this 
deity have Brahman priests. It seems uncertain whether 

1 The trifoliate leaf of Aegle Marmelos. 

2 Bombay Gazette,,-. v>! wiii. p. ?h>>. 


Siva or Mahadco was first a village deity and was sub- 
sequently exalted to the position of a member of the 
supreme Hindu Trinity, or whether the opposite process 
took place and the Guraos obtained their priestly functions 
on his worship being popularised. But in any case it 
would appear that they were originally a class of village 
priests regarded as the servants of the cultivating com- 
munity, by whose gifts and offerings they were maintained. 
Grant- Duff in enumerating the village servants says : 
" Ninth, the Gurao, who is a Sudra employed to wash the 
ornaments and attend the idol in the village temples, and 
on occasions of feasting to prepare the patraolz or leaves 
which the Hindus substitute for plates. They are also 
trumpeters by profession and in this capacity arc much 
employed in Maratha armies." 1 

The caste has several subdivisions which are principally 2. internal 
of a territorial nature, as Warade from Berar ; J hade, inhabit- structure - 
ants of the forest or rice country ; Telanga, of the Telugu 
country; Dakshne, from the Deccan ; Marwari, from Marwar, 
and so on. Other subcastes are the AhTr and Jain Guraos, 
of whom the former are apparently Ahlrs who have adopted 
the priestly profession, while the Jain Guraos are held in 
Bombay to be the descendants of Jain temple servants who 
entered the caste when their own deities were thrown out 
and their shrines annexed by the votaries of Siva. 2 In 
Bombay, Mr. Enthoven states " That the Koli and Maratha 
ministrants at the temples of Siva and other deities often 
describe themselves as Guraos, but they have not formed 
themselves into separate castes and are members of the 
general Koli or Maratha community. They cease to call 
themselves Guraos when they cease to minister at temples." 3 
In the Central Provinces one of the subcastes is known as 
Vajantri because they act as village musicians. The caste 
have no regular exogamous sections, but a number of sur- 
names which answer the same purpose. These are of a pro- 
fessional type, as Lokhandes, an iron-dealer ; Phulzares, 
a maker of fireworks ; Sontake, a gold-merchant ; Gaikwad, 

1 History of the Marathas, vol. i. 3 Bombay Ethnographic Survey, 

p. 26, footnote. Monograph on Gurao. 

- Bombay Gazetteer, vol. x. p. 119. 

VOL. Ill N 

i 7 8 


3. Mar- 
riage and 
of adoles- 

4. Birth 

a cowherd ; Nakade, long - nosed, and so on. They say 
they all belong to the same gotra, Sankhiayan, named after 
Sankhiaya Rishi, the ancestor of the caste. 

Marriage is avoided between persons having the same 
surname and those within six degrees of descent from a 
common ancestor whether male or female. The marriage 
ceremony generally resembles that of the Brahmans. Before 
the wedding the bridegroom's father prepares an image of 
Siva from rice and til-seed, 1 covers it with a cloth and sends 
it to the bride's house. In return her mother prepares and 
sends back a similar image of Gauri, Siva's consort. Girls 
are married as infants, and when a woman arrives at adoles- 
cence the following ritual is observed : She goes to her 
husband's house and is there secluded for three or four days 
while her impurity lasts. On its termination she is bathed 
and clothed in a green dress and yellow choli or breast-cloth, 
and seated in a gaily decked wooden frame. Her lap is 
filled with wheat and a cocoanut, and her female friends and 
relatives and father and father-in-law give her presents of 
sweets and clothes. This is known as the Shantik ceremony 
and is practised by the higher castes in the Maratha country. 
It may continue for as long as sixteen days. Finally, on an 
auspicious day the bride and bridegroom are given delicate 
food and dressed in new clothes. The fire sacrifice is offered 
and they are taken into a room where a bed, the gift of the 
bride's parents, has been prepared for them, and left to con- 
summate the marriage. This is known as Garbhadhan. 
Next day the bride's parents give new clothes and a feast 
to the bridegroom's family ; this feast is known as Godai, 
and after giving it the bride's parents may eat at their 
daughter's house. A girl seduced by a man of the caste 
may be properly married to him after her parents have 
performed Prdyaschit or atonement. But if she has a child 
out of wedlock, he is relegated to the Vidur or illegitimate 
group. Even if a girl be seduced by a stranger, provided he 
be of higher or equal caste, as the Kunbis and Marathas, she 
may be taken back into the community. 

If a child is born at an unlucky season, they take two 
winnowing-fans and tie the baby between them with a thread 

] Sesamum. 


wound many times round about. A cow is brought and 
made to lick the child, which is thus supposed to have been 
born again from it as a calf, the evil omen of the first birth 
being removed. The father performs the fire sacrifice, and 
a human figure is made from cooked rice and worshipped. 
A burning wick is placed in its stomach and it is taken out 
and left at cross-roads, this being probably a substitute for 
the member of the family whose death was presaged by the 
untimely birth of the child. Similarly if any one dies at the 
astronomical period known as Panchak, they make five 
figures of wheat-flour and burn or bury them with the body, 
as it is thought that otherwise five members of the family 
would die. 

Boys are invested with the sacred thread at the age of 5. The 
five, seven or nine years, and until that time they are ^ cre ^ 
considered to be Sudras and not members of the caste. 
From a hundred to three hundred rupees may be spent on 
the investiture. On the day before the ceremony a Brahman 
and his wife are invited to take food, and a yellow thread 
with a mango leaf is tied round the boy's wrist. The spirits 
of other boys who died before their thread ceremony was 
performed and of women of the family who died before their 
husbands are invited to attend. These are represented by 
young boys and married women of other families who come 
to the house and are bathed and anointed with turmeric and 
oil, and given presents of sugar and new clothes. Next day 
the initiate is seated on a platform in a shed erected for the 
purpose and puts on the sacred thread made of cotton and 
also a strip of the skin of the black-buck with a silk apron 
and cap. The boy's father takes him on his lap and whispers 
or, as the Hindus say, blows the Gayatri mantra or sacred 
text into his ear. A sacrifice is performed, and the friends 
and fellow-castemen of the family make presents to the boy 
of copper and silver coin. The amount thus given is not 
used by the parents, but is spent on the boy's education or 
on the purchase of an ornament for him. On the conclusion 
of the ceremony the boy mounts a wooden model of a horse 
and pretends to set out for Benares. His paternal uncle 
then says to him, ' Why are you going away ? ' And the 
boy replies, ' Because you have not married me.' His uncle 


1 80 GURAO i'art 

then promises to find a bride for him and he gives up his 
project. The part played by the maternal uncle in this 
ceremony is probably a survival of the period of the matri- 
archate, when a man's property descended to his sister's son. 
He would thus naturally claim the boy as a husband for his own 
daughter, and such a marriage apparently became customary 
and in course of time acquired binding force. And although 
all recollection of the rule of inheritance through women has 
long been forgotten, the marriage of a brother's daughter to 
a sister's son is still considered peculiarly suitable, and the 
idea that it is the duty of the maternal uncle to find a bride 
for his nephew appears to be simply a development of this. 
The above account also gives reason for supposing that the 
investiture with the sacred thread was originally a ceremony 
of puberty. 
6. Funeral The dead are burnt and the ashes thrown into water 

or carried to the Ganges. A small piece of gold, two or 
three small pearls, and some basil leaves are put into the 
mouth, and flowers, red powder and betel leaves are spread 
over the corpse. The son or male heir of the deceased 
walks in front carrying fire in an earthen pot. At a small 
distance from the burning-ground, when the bearers change 
places, he picks up a stone, known as the life-stone or 
jivkhada. This is afterwards buried at the burning-ghat 
until the priest comes to effect the purification of the 
mourners on the tenth day. It is then dug up, set up and 
worshipped, and thrown into a well. A man is burnt naked ; 
a woman in a robe and bodice. The heads of widows 
are not shaved as a rule, but on the tenth day after her 
husband's death a widow is asked whether she would like 
her head shaved ; if she refuses, the people conclude that 
she intends to marry again. But if the deceased left no 
male heir to carry behind his bier the burning wood with 
which the funeral pyre is to be kindled, then the widow 
must be shaved before the funeral starts and perform this 
duty. If there is no male relative and no widow, the pot 
containing fire is tied to the bier. When the corpse of a 
woman who has died in child -bed is being carried to the 
burning-ground various rites are observed to prevent her 
spirit from becoming a Churel and troubling the living. 
















A lemon charmed by a magician is buried under the corpse 
and a man follows the body strewing the seeds of rata, while 
nails are driven into the threshold of the house. 1 

The caste has now a fairly high social status and ranks 7. Social 
above the Kunbis. They abstain from all flesh and from positlor 
liquor and will take food only from the hands of a Maratha 
Brahman, while Kunbis and other cultivating and serving 
castes will accept food from their hands. They worship 
Siva principally on Mondays, this day being sacred to the 
deity, who carries the moon as an ornament on his head, 
crowning the matted locks from which the Ganges flows. 

Of the Jain Guraos Mr. Enthoven quotes the following 8. The 
interesting description from the Bombay Gazetteer : " They Q^aos 
are mainly servants in village temples which, though dedicated 
to Brahmanic gods, have still by their sides broken remains 
of Jain images. This, and the fact that most of the temple 
land-grants date from a time when Jainism was the State 
religion, support the theory that the Jain Guraos are probably 
Jain temple servants who have come under the influence 
partly of Lingayatism and partly of Brahmanism. A curious 
survival of their Jainism occurs at Dasahra, Shimga and other 
leading festivals, when the village deity is taken out of the 
temple and carried in procession. On these occasions, in 
front of the village god's palanquin, three, five or seven of 
the villagers, among whom the Gurao is always the leader, 
carry each a long, gaily-painted wooden pole resting against 
their right shoulder. At the top of the pole is fastened a 
silver mask or hand and round it is draped a rich silk robe. 
Of these poles, the chief one, carried by the Gurao, is called 
the Jain's pillar, Jainacha khamb" 

1 Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xix. p. 101. 




Traditions of the caste. 

1 1. 



Halba landowners in Bastar 


Disposal of the dead. 

and Bhanddra. 


Propitiating the spirits of those 


Internal structure. Subcastes. 

who have died a violent death. 


Exogamous sections. 


Impurity of women. 


Theory of the origin of the 









Social status. 


Importance of the sister's son. 


Caste panchdyat. 


The wedding ceremony. 




Going-away ceremony. 




Widow-marriage and divorce. 



i. Tradi- 

Halba, Halbi. 1 — A caste < 

}f Cl 

iltivators and farmservants 

tions of 
the caste. 

whose home is the south of 


Raipur District and the 

Ranker and Bastar States ; from here small numbers of 
them have spread to Bhandara and parts of Berar. In 
191 1 they numbered 100,000 persons in the combined 
Provinces. The Halbas have several stories relating to 
their own origin. One of these, reported by Mr. Gokul 
Prasad, is as follows : One of the Uriya Rajas had erected 
four scarecrows in his field to keep off the birds. One 
night Mahadeo and Parvati were walking on the earth and 
happened to pass that way, and Parvati saw them and asked 
what they were. When it was explained to her she thought 
that as they had excited her interest something should be 
done for them, and at her request Mahadeo gave them life 

1 This article is compiled principally Bastar State, and Mr. Gokul Prasad, 

from a monograph by Munshi Kanhya Tahsildar of Dhamtari. The descrip- 

Lal, Assistant Master, Raipur High tions of marriage, funeral and birth 

School, and formerly of the Gazetteer customs are taken from Munshi Kanhya 

Office ; and also from papers by Mr. Lai's monograph. 
Panda Baijnath, Superintendent of 










parti] HALBA 183 

and they became two men and two women. Next morning 
they presented themselves before the Raja and told him 
what had happened. The Raja said, " Since you have 
come on earth, you must have a caste. Run after Mahadeo 
and find out what caste you should belong to." So they 
ran after the god and inquired of him, and he said that as 
they had excited his and Parvati's attention by waving in 
the wind they should be called Halba, from halna, to wave. 
This story is clearly based on one of those fanciful punning 
derivations so dear to the Brahmanical mind, but the legend 
about being created from scarecrows is found among other 
agricultural castes of non-Aryan origin, as the Lodhis. The 
story continues that the reason why the Halbas came to 
settle in Bastar and Kanker was that they had accompanied 
one of the Rajas of Jagannath in Orissa, who was afflicted 
with leprosy, to the Sihawa jungles, where he proposed to 
pass the rest of his life in retirement. On a certain day 
the Raja went out hunting with his dogs, one of which was 
quite white. This dog jumped into a spring of water and 
came out with his white skin changed to copper red. The 
Raja, observing this miracle, bathed in the spring himself 
and was cured of his leprosy. He then wished to return to 
Orissa, but the Halbas induced him to remain in his adopted 
country, and he became the ancestor of the Rajas of Kanker. 
The Halbas are still the household servants of the Kanker 
family, and when a fresh chief succeeds, one of them, who 
has the title of Kapardar, takes him to the temple and 
invests him with the Durbar kl posJiak or royal robes, affix- 
ing also the tika or badge of office on his forehead with 
turmeric, rice and sandalwood, and rubbing his body over 
with ottar of roses. Until lately the Kapardar's family had 
a considerable grant of rent-free land, but this has now been 
taken away. A Halba is or was also the priest of the 
temple at Sihawa, which is said to have been built by the 
first Raja over the spring where he was healed of his leprosy. 
The Halbas are also connected with the Rajas of Bastar, 
and a suggestion has been made ! that they originally 
belonged to the Telugu country and came with the Rajas of 
Bastar from Warangal in the Deccan. Mr. Gilder derives 

1 By the Rev. G. K. Gilder of the Methodist Episcopal Mission of Raipur. 

1 84 HALBA part 

the name from an old Canarese word Halbar or Ha/daru, 
meaning ' old ones or ancients ' or ' primitive inhabitants.' 
The Halba dialect, however, contains no traces of Canarese, 
and on the question of their entering Bastar with the Rajas, 
Rai Bahadur Panda Baijnath, Diwan of Bastar, writes as 
follows : In the following saying relating to the coming of 
the Bastar Rajas, which is often repeated, the Halba's name 
does not occur : 

Chalkibans Raja Dibdibi baja. 

Kosaria Rawat Pita Bhatra. 

Peng Parja Raja Mutia, 

Te?idu khuti Pania lava. 

Which may be rendered : " The Raja was of the Chalki 
race. 1 The drum was called Dibdibi. Kosaria Rawat, 
Pita Bhatra, Peng Parja and Raja Muria, 2 these four castes 
came with the Raja. The tribute paid (to the Raja) was 
a comb of tendu wood and a lava quail." This doggerel 
rhyme is believed to recall the circumstances of the 
immigration of the Bastar Rajas. So the Halbas did not 
perhaps come with the Raja, but they were his guards 
for a long time. In the Dasahra ceremony a Halba carried 
the royal Chhatra or Umbrella, and the Raja walked under 
the protection of another Halba's naked sword. A Halba's 
widows were not sold and his intestate property was not 
taken over by the Raja. 
2. Halba Thus the Halbas occupy a comparatively honourable 

in n BasIar rS P osition in Bastar. They are the highest local caste with 
and the exception of the Brahmans, the Dhakars or illegitimate 

descendants of Brahmans, and a few Rajput families. 
The reason for this is no doubt that they have become 
landholders in the State, a position which it would not be 
difficult for them to acquire when their only rivals were the 
Gonds. They are moderately good cultivators, and in 
Dhamtari can hold their own with Hindus, so that they 
could well surpass the Gond. Traditions also remain in 
Bastar of a Halba revolt. It is said that during Raja 

1 Chalki is said to have been a also be taken from the Chalukya 

Brahman who gave shelter to the Rajput clan. 

pregnant fugitive widow of a Raja ; 2 The Rawats or Ahhs are graziers, 

and her child was the ancestor of the and the Bhatra, Parja and Muria are 

Bastar dynasty. But the name may primitive tribes allied to the Gonds. 



Daryao Deo's reign, about 125 years back, the Halbas 
rebelled and many were thrown down a waterfall ninety 
feet high, one only of these escaping with his life. The 
eyes of some were also put out as a punishment for the 
oppression they had exercised, and a stone inscription 
at Donger records the oath of fealty taken by the 
Halbas before the image of Dantcshwari, the tutelary deity 
of Bastar, after their insurrection was put down in 
Samvat 1836 or A.D. 1779. The Halbas were thus a caste 
of considerable influence, since they could attempt to subvert 
the ruling dynasty. In Bhandara again the caste have 
quite a different story, and say that they came from the 
United Provinces or, according to another version, the 
Makrai State, where they were of the status of Rajputs and 
wore the sacred thread. There a girl of their family, of 
great beauty, was asked in marriage by a Muhammadan 
king. The father could not refuse the king, but would not 
give his daughter in marriage to one not of his own caste. 
So he fled south and took asylum with the Gond Raja 
of Chanda, from whom the Halba zamlndars subsequently 
received their estates. It seems unnecessary to attach any 
importance to this story ; the tale of the beautiful daughter 
is most hackneyed, and the whole has probably been devised 
by the Brahmans to give the Halba zamlndars of Bhandara 
a more respectable ancestry than they could claim if they 
admitted having come from Bastar, certainly no home of 
Rajputs. But if this supposition is correct it is interesting to 
note how a legend may show a caste as originating in some 
place with which it never had any connection whatever ; 
and it seems a necessary conclusion that no importance can 
be attached to such traditions without corroborating evidence. 

The caste have local divisions known as Bastarha, 3. internal 
Chhattlsgarhia and Marethia, according as they live in s 1 ™ 01111 " 61 

' & J subcastes. 

Bastar, Chhattlsgarh, or Bhandara and the other Maratha 
Districts. The last two groups, however, intermarry, so 
only the Bastar Halbas really form a separate subcaste. 
But the caste is also everywhere divided into two groups of 
pure and mixed Halbas. These are known in Bastar and 
Chhattisgarh as Purait or Nekha, and Surait or Nfiyak, re- 
spectively, and in Bhandara as Barpangat and Khalpangat or 

1 86 HA LB A part 

those of good and bad stock. The Suraits or Khalpangats 
are said to be of mixed origin, born from Halba fathers and 
women of other castes. But in past times unions of Halba 
mothers and men of other castes were perhaps not less fre- 
quent. These two sets of groups do not intermarry. A 
Surait Halba will take food from a Purait, but the Puraits do 
not return the compliment ; though in some localities they 
will accept food which does not contain salt. The two 
divisions will take water from each other and exchange leaf- 
pipes. In Bhandara the Barpangat or pure Halbas have now 
further split into two groups, the zamlndari families having 
constituted themselves into a separate subdivision ; they 
practise hypergamy with the others, taking daughters from 
them in marriage but not giving their daughters to them. 
This is simply of a piece with their claim to be Rajputs, 
hypergamy being a custom of northern India. 
4. Exo- The exogamous sections of the caste afford further 

gamous ev j(j ence f their mixed origin. Many of the names recorded 

sections. ° -' 

are those of other castes, as Baretha (a washerman), Bhoyar 
(Bhoi or bearer), Rawat (herdsman), Barhai (carpenter), Malia 
(Mali or gardener), Dhakar (Vidur or illegitimate Brahman), 
Bhandari (barber), Pardhan (Gond), Mankar (title of various 
tribes), Sahara (Saonr), Kanderi (turner), Agri (Agarwala 
Bania), Baghel (a sept of Rajputs), Elmia (from Velama, 
Telugu cultivators), and Chalki and Ponwar (Chalukya and 
Panwar Rajputs). It may be concluded that these groups 
are descended from ancestors of the caste after which they 
are named. There are also a number of territorial and titular 
names of the usual type, and many totemistic names, as Gho- 
rapatia (a horse), Kawaliha (lotus), Aurila (tamarind), Lendia 
(a tree), Gohi (a lizard), Manjur (a peacock), Bhringraj (a black- 
bird) and so on. In Bastar they revere the animal or plant 
after which their sept is named and will not kill or injure it. 
If a man accidentally kills his devak or sacred animal he will 
tear off a small piece of his cloth and throw it away to 
make a shroud for the corpse. A few of them will break 
their earthen pots as if a relative had died in their house, 
but this is not general. In Bastar the totemistic groups are 
named barags, and many men also belong to a thok, having 
some titular name which they use as a surname. Nowadays 


marriage is avoided by persons having the same tJwk or sur- 
name as well as between those of the same barag. 

In view of the information available the most probable s- Theory 
theory of the origin of the Halbas is that they were a mixed ° • ^ of 
caste, born of irregular alliances between the Uriya Rajas the caste, 
and their retainers with the women of their household 
servants and between the different servants themselves. Mr. 
Gokul Prasad points out that many of the names of Halba 
sections are those of the haguas or household menials of the 
Uriya chiefs. The Halbas, according to their own story, 
came here in attendance on one of the chiefs, and are still 
employed as household servants in Ranker and Bastar. They 
are clearly a caste of mixed origin as they still admit women 
of other castes married by Halba men into the community, 
and one of their two subcastes in each locality consists of 
families of impure descent. The Dhakars of Bastar are the 
illegitimate offspring of Brahmans with women of the country 
who have grown into a caste, and Mr. Panda Baijnath quotes 
a proverb, saying that ' The Halbas and Dhakars form two 
portions of a bedsheet.' Instances of other castes similarly 
formed are the Audhelias of Bilaspur, who are said to be the 
offspring of Daharia Rajputs by their kept women, and the 
Bargahs, descended from the nurses of Rajput families. The 
name Halba might be derived from hal, a plough, and be a 
variant for harwaha, the common term for a farmservant in 
the northern Districts. This derivation they give themselves 
in one of their stories, saying that their first ancestor was 
created from a sod of earth on the plough of Balaram or 
Haladhara, the brother of Krishna ; and it has also the 
support of Sir G. Grierson. The caste includes no doubt a 
number of Gonds, Rawats (herdsmen) and others, and it may 
be partly occupational, consisting of persons employed as 
farmservants by the Hindu settlers. The farmservant in 
Chhattlsgarh has a very definite position, his engagement 
being permanent and his wages consisting always in a 
fourth share of the produce, which is divided among them 
when several are employed. The caste have a peculiar dia- 
lect of their own, which Dr. Grierson describes as follows : 

1 Linguistic Survey, vol. vii. p. Sir G. Grierson at the time of the 
331, and a note kindly furnished by census. 

1 88 HALBA part 

" Linguistic evidence also points to the fact that the H albas 
are an aboriginal tribe, who have adopted Hinduism and 
an Aryan language. Their dialect is a curious mixture 
of Uriya, Chhattlsgarhi and Marathi, the proportions vary- 
ing according to the locality. In Bhandara it is nearly all 
Marathi, but in Bastar it is much more mixed and has some 
forms which look like Telugu." If the home of the Halbas 
was in the debateable land between Chhattlsgarh and the 
Uriya country to the east and south of the Mahanadi, their 
dialect might, as Mr. Hira Lai points out, have originated 
here. They themselves give the ruined but once important 
city of Sihawa on the banks of the Mahanadi in this tract as 
that of their first settlement ; and Uriya is spoken to the east 
of Sihawa and Marathi to the west, while Chhattlsgarhi is 
the language of the locality itself and of the country extend- 
ing north and south. Subsequently the Halbas served as 
soldiers in the armies of the Ratanpur kings and their posi- 
tion no doubt considerably improved, so that in Bastar they 
became an important landholding caste. Some of these 
soldiers may have migrated west and taken service under the 
Gond kings of Chanda, and their descendants may now be 
represented by the Bhandara zamindars, who, however, if 
this theory be correct, have entirely forgotten their origin. 
Others took up weaving and have become amalgamated with 
the Koshti caste in Bhandara and Berar. 
6. Mar- Girls are not usually married until they are above 

nage. |- en y ears \^ f or nearly adult as age goes in India ; but 
there is no rule on the subject. Many girls reach twenty 
without entering wedlock. If the parents are too poor to 
pay for their daughter's marriage the neighbours will sub- 
scribe. In Bastar, however, the Uriya custom prevails, and 
an unmarried girl in whom the signs of puberty appear is 
put out of caste. In such a case her father marries her to 
a mahua tree. The strictness of the rule on this subject 
among the Uriyas is probably due to the strength of 
Brahmanical influence, the priestly caste possessing more 
power and property in Sambalpur and Orissa than in almost 
any part of India. If a death occurs in the family of the 
bridegroom just before the date fixed for the wedding, and 
the ceremonies of purification cannot be completed prior to 


it, the bride is formally wedded to an achar ' or mahua tree ; L ' 
the marriage crown is tied on to the tree, and the bride 
walks round it seven times. After the bridegroom's puri- 
fication the couple are taken to the same tree, and here the 
forehead of the bridegroom is marked with turmeric paste 
and rice. The couple sit one on each side of the tree, 
and the Tikawan ceremony or presentation of gifts by the 
relatives and friends is performed, and the marriage is con- 
sidered to be complete. If an unmarried girl goes wrong 
with an outsider of low caste she is expelled from the 
community ; but if with a member of a caste from whom a 
Halba can take water she may be readmitted to caste, pro- 
vided she has not eaten food cooked in an earthen pot from 
the hands of her seducer; but not if she has done so. If 
there be a child of the seducer she must wait until it be 
weaned and either taken by the putative father or given 
away to a Chamar or Gond. The girl can then be given 
in marriage to any Halba as a widow. Women of other 
castes married by Halbas are admitted into the community. 
This happens most frequently in the case of women of the 
Rawat (herdsman) caste. 

A match which is commonly arranged where practic- 7. import- 
able is that of a brother's daughter to a sister's son. And a . n f e , of the 

° sister s son. 

a man always shows a special regard and respect for his 
sister's son, touching his feet as to a superior, while, when- 
ever he desires to make a gift as an offering of thanks or 
atonement or as a meritorious action, the sister's son is the 
recipient. At his death he usually leaves a substantial 
legacy, such as one or two buffaloes, to his sister's son, the 
remainder of the property going to his own family. This 
recognition of a special relationship is probably a survival of 
the matriarchate, when property descended through women, 
and a sister's son would be his uncle's heir. Thus a man 
would naturally desire to marry his daughter to his nephew 
in order that she might participate in his property, and 
hence arose the custom of making this match, which is still 
the most favoured among the Halbas and Gonds, though 

1 Buchanania latifolia. are valued because the fruit of the first 

and the flowers of the second afford 

2 Bassia latifolia. Both these trees food. 

igo HA LB A i'art 

the reasons which led to it have been forgotten for several 

8. The Matches are usually arranged on the initiative of the 

wedding bov's father through a mutual friend who resides in the 

ceremony. / . » 

girl's village, and is known as the Mahalia or matchmaker. 
When the contract is concluded the boy's father sends a 
present of fixed quantities of grain to the girl, which are in 
the nature of a bride-price, and subsequently on an auspicious 
day selected by the family priest he and his friends proceed 
to the girl's village. The girl meets them, standing at the 
entrance of the principal house, dressed in the new clothes 
sent on behalf of the bridegroom, and holding out her cloth 
for the reception of presents. The boy's father goes up to 
her and smooths her hair with his hand, chucks her under 
the chin with his right hand, and makes a noise with his 
lips as if he were kissing her. He then touches her feet, 
places a rupee on the skirt of her cloth, and retires. The 
other members of his party follow his example, giving small 
presents of copper, and afterwards the women of the girl's 
party treat the bridegroom in the same manner, but they 
actually kiss him {chumnd). Betrothals can be held only in 
the five months from Magh (January) to Jeth (May), while 
marriages may be celebrated during the eight dry months. 
The auspicious date is selected by the Joshi or caste-priest, 
who is chosen by the community for his personal qualities. 
If the names of the couple do not point to an auspicious 
union the bridegroom's name may be changed either 
temporarily or permanently. The Joshi takes two pieces 
of cloth, which should be torn from the scarf of the boy's 
father, and ties up in each of them some rice, areca nuts, 
turmeric and dub grass {Cynodon dactylori). One of these 
is marked with red lead, and is intended for the bride, and 
the other, which is left plain, is for the bridegroom. At 
the wedding some of this rice with pulse is placed with a 
twig of mahua in a hole in the marriage-shed and addressed : 
' You are the goddess Lachhmi ; you have come to assist in 
the marriage.' 

The Halbas, like the other lower castes of Chhattlsgarh, 
have two forms of wedding, known as the ' Small ' and ' Large,' 
the former bein^; held at the bridegroom's house with cur- 


tailed ceremonies, and being much cheaper than the latter or 
Hindu marriage proper, which is held at the bride's house. 
The ' small ' wedding is more popular among the Halbas, 
and for this the bride, accompanied by some of her girl and 
boy friends, arrives at the bridegroom's village in the evening, 
her parents following her only on the third day. On entering 
the lands of the village her party begin singing obscene 
songs filled with abuse of the bridegroom's parents and 
relatives. Nobody goes to receive or welcome them, and 
on reaching the bridegroom's house they enter it without 
ceremony and sit down in the room where the family gods 
are kept. All this time they continue singing, and the 
musicians keep up a deafening din in accompaniment. Sub- 
sequently the bride's party are shown to their lodging, known 
as the DulJii-kuria or bride's apartments, and here the bride- 
groom's father visits her and washes her big toes first with 
milk and then with water. The practice of washing the feet 
of guests, which strikes strangely on our minds when we 
meet it in Scripture, was obviously a welcome attention when 
travellers went bare-footed, or at most wore sandals, and 
arrived at their journey's end with the feet soiled and bruised 
by the rigours of the way. Another of the bridegroom's 
friends pretends to act as a barber, and shaves all the bride's 
men friends with a piece of straw as if it were a razor. For 
the marriage ceremony proper the bride and bridegroom 
stand facing each other by the marriage hut with a sheet 
held between them ; the Joshi or caste-priest takes two lamps 
and mingles their flames, and the cloth between the couple 
being pulled down the bridegroom drags the bride over to him. 
If the wedding is held on a Sunday, Tuesday or Saturday 
the bridegroom stands facing the east, and if on a Monday, 
Thursday or Friday, to the north. After this the cloths of 
the couple are tied together, or the end of the bridegroom's 
scarf is tucked in the bride's waistcloth, and they go round 
the marriage-post seven times, the bride following the bride- 
groom throughout. A plough-yoke is then brought and 
placed close by the marriage-post and the couple take their 
seats on it, the bride sitting on the left of the bridegroom. 
The bundles of rice consecrated by the Joshi are given to 
them and they throw it over each other. The bridegroom 

192 HA LB A part 

takes some red lead and smears the bride's face with it, 
making a line from the end of her nose up across her forehead 
and along the parting of her hair. He says her name aloud 
and covers her head with her cloth. This signifies that she 
is a married woman, as in Chhattlsgarh unmarried girls go 
about with the head bare. After this the mother and father 
of the bride come and wash the feet of the couple with milk 
and water. This ceremony is known as Dharam Tlka, and 
after its completion the bride's parents will take food in the 
bridegroom's house, which they abstain from doing from the 
date of the betrothal up to this washing of the feet. It is on 
this account that they do not accompany the bride but only 
follow her on the third day, but the reason for the rule is by 
no means clear. On the following day more ceremonies are 
performed, and the friends of the couple touch their foreheads 
with rice and make presents to them of cowries. Last of all 
the bride's parents come and give them cattle and other 
articles according to their means. These gifts are known 
as Tikawan and remain the separate property of the bride 
which she can dispose of as she pleases. The ceremonies 
usually extend over four days, the wedding itself taking 
place on the third. The bride's party then go home, leaving 
her with her husband, and after a week or so they return 
and take the couple to the bride's house for the ceremony 
known as Pinar Dhawai or getting their yellow wedding 
clothes washed. The bridegroom stays here two or three 
weeks, and during this time he must work at building or 
repairing the walls of his father-in-law's house. The custom 
of serving for a wife still obtains among the Halbas, and the 
above rule may perhaps indicate that it was once more 
general. At the end of the bridegroom's visit his father-in- 
law gives him a new cloth and pair of shoes and sends him 
back to his parents' house with his wife. The expenses 
of the wedding average about fifty rupees for the bride- 
groom's family and from five to thirty rupees for the bride's 
9. Going- After the wedding if the bride is grown up she lives 

with her husband at once ; but if she is a child she goes 

ceremony. ° 

back to her parents until her adolescence, when the ceremony 
of Pathoni or ' Going away ' is performed. On this occasion 


some people from the bridegroom's home go to fetch her 
and their number must be even, so that when she returns 
with them the party may be an odd one, which is lucky. 
They take a new cloth for the bride and stay the night at 
her house ; next morning the bride's parents put some rice, 
pulse, oil and a comb in a basket for her, and she sets out 
with the party, wearing her new cloth. But when she gets 
outside the village this is taken off her and placed in the 
basket, which she has to carry on her head as far as her 
husband's house. As she enters his village the people 
stretch a rope across the way and prevent her passage until 
her father-in-law gives them a present. On arriving at his 
house her feet are washed by her mother-in-law, and she is 
then made to cook the food brought in her basket. After a 
fortnight she again goes back to her parents' house and 
stays with them for another year, before finally taking up 
her abode with her husband. It has been remarked that 
this return of a married woman to her parents' house for 
such lengthened periods is likely to be a pregnant source of 
immorality, and the advantage of the custom has been ques- 
tioned ; the explanation may perhaps be that it is an out- 
come of the joint family system by which young married 
couples live with the bridegroom's parents, and that the 
object is to accustom the girl gradually to the habits of a 
fresh household and the yoke, necessarily irksome, of her 
mother-in-law. The proverb with reference to a young 
wife, ' If your husband loves you your mother-in-law can 
do nothing,' indicates how formidable this may be in the 
event of any cooling of marital affection ; and it is well 
known that if she does not please her husband's family a 
young wife may be treated as little better than a slave. To 
throw a young girl, therefore, into a family of complete 
strangers is probably too severe a trial, and this is the reason 
of the goings and returnings of the bride after her wedding 
between her husband's home and her own. 

The remarriage of a widow must be held during io . Widow- 
the bright fortnight of the month, and on any odd day of ™ a d rnage 
the fortnight excluding the first. The couple are seated divorce, 
together on a yoke in a part of the courtyard cleaned with 
cowdung, and their clothes are tied together, while the 

VOL. Ill O 



husband rubs vermilion on his wife's hair. A bachelor 
should not take a widow in marriage, and if he does so he 
must at the same time also wed a maiden with the regular 
ceremony, as otherwise he is likely after death to become a 
masan or evil spirit. In order to avoid this contingency a 
bachelor who espouses a widow in Ranker is first wedded 
to a spear. Turmeric and oil are rubbed on his body and 
on the spear, and he walks round it seven times. Divorce 
is freely permitted in Chhattlsgarh at the instance of either 
party and for the most trivial reasons, as a mere allegation 
of disagreement ; but if a husband puts away his wife when 
she has not been unfaithful to him he must give her some- 
thing for her support. In some localities no ceremony is 
performed at all, but a wife or husband who tires of wedlock 
simply leaves the other as the case may be. In Bastar a 
wife cannot divorce her husband. A divorced woman does 
not break her glass bangles until she marries again, when 
new ones are given to her by her second husband. 
ii. Reii- A large proportion of the H albas of Chhattlsgarh belong 

glon- to the KabTrpanthi sect. These are known as Kabirhas 

and abjure the consumption of flesh and alcoholic liquor ; 
while the others who indulge in these articles are known 
as Sakatha or Sakta, that is, a worshipper of Devi or Durga. 
These latter, however, also revere all the village godlings of 
12. Dis- The dead are always buried by the Kablrpanthis and 

posal °j, usually by other Halbas, cremation being reserved by the 
latter as a special mark of respect for elders and heads of 
families. A dead body is wrapped in a new white cloth and 
laid on an inverted cot. The Kablrpanthis lay plantain leaves 
at the sides of the cot and over the body to cover it. One of 
the mourners carries a burning cowdung cake with the party. 
Before burial the thread which every male wears round his 
waist is broken, the clothes are taken off the corpse and 
given to a sweeper, and the body is wrapped in the shroud 
and laid in the grave, salt being sprinkled under and over it. 
If the dead body should be touched by any person of 
another caste, the deceased's family has to pay a fine or 
give a penal caste-feast. After the interment the mourners 
bathe and return to the deceased's house in their wet clothes. 


Before entering it they wash their feet in water, which is 
kept for that purpose at the door, and chew the leaves of 
the nlm tree {Melia indica). They smoke their clwngis or 
leaf-pipes and console the deceased's family and then return 
home, washing their feet again and changing their clothes at 
their own houses. On the third day, known as Tij Abakan, 
the male members of the family with the relatives and 
mourners walk in Indian file to a river or tank, where they 
are all shaved by the barber, the sons of the dead man or 
woman having the entire head and face cleared of hair, 
while in the case of other relatives, the scalp-lock and 
moustache may be left, and the mourning friends are only 
shaved as on ordinary occasions. For his services the 
barber receives a cow or a substantial cash present, which 
he divides with the washerman. The latter subsequently 
washes all clothes worn at the funeral and on this occasion. 
On the Akti festival, or commencement of the agricultural 
year, libations of water and offerings of urad l cakes are 
made to the spirits of ancestors. A feast is given to women 
in honour of all departed female ancestors on the ninth 
day of the Pitripaksh or mourning fortnight of Kunwar 
(September), and feasts for male ancestors may be held on 
the same day of the fortnight as that on which they died 
at any other time of the year. 2 Such observances are 
practised only by the well-to-do. Nothing is done for 
persons who die before their marriage or without children, 
unless they trouble some member of the family and appear 
in a dream to demand that these honours be paid to them. 
During an epidemic of cholera all funeral and mourning 
ceremonies are suspended, and a general purification of the 
village takes place on its conclusion. 

If a person has been killed by a tiger, the people go 13. Pro- 
out, and if any remains of the body are found, these are Ke^Srits 
burnt on the spot. The Baiga is then invoked to bring of those 
back the spirit of the deceased, a most essential precaution ^ed a 
as will shortly be seen. In order to do this he suspends a violent 
copper ring on a long thread above a vessel of water and 
then burns butter and sugar on the fire, muttering incanta- 

1 A black pulse. 
2 The Hindus number the days of each lunar fortnight separately. 



14. Im- 
purity of 

15. Child- 

tions, while the people sing songs and call on the spirit of 
the dead man to return. The thread swings to and fro, and 
at length the copper ring falls into the pot, and this is taken 
as a sign that the spirit has come and entered the vessel. 
The mouth of this is immediately covered and it is buried 
or kept in some secure place. The people believe that 
unless the dead man's spirit is secured it will accompany 
the tiger and lure solitary travellers to destruction. This is 
done by calling out and offering them tobacco to smoke, 
and when they proceed in the direction of the voice the 
tiger springs out and kills them. And they think that a 
tisrer directed in this manner grows fiercer and fiercer with 
every person whom it kills. When somebody has been 
killed by a tiger the relatives will not even remove the 
ornaments from the corpse, for they think that these would 
constitute a link by which its spirit would cause the tiger 
to track them down. The malevolence thus attributed to 
persons killed by tigers is explained by their bitter wrath at 
having encountered such an untimely death and consequent 
desire to entice others to the same. 

During the monthly period of menstruation women are 
spoken of as ' Mund maili ' or having the head dirty, and 
are considered to be impure for four or five days, for which 
time they sleep on the ground and not on cots. In Ranker 
they are secluded in a separate room, and forbidden to cook 
or to touch the clothes or persons of other members of the 
family. They must not walk on a ploughed field, nor will 
the men of their family drive the plough or sow seed during 
the time of their impurity. On the fifth day they wash 
their heads with earth and boil their clothes in water 
mixed with wood ashes. Cloth stained with the menstrua] 
blood is usually buried underground ; if it is burnt it is 
supposed that the woman to whom it belonged will become 
barren, and if a barren woman should swallow the ashes 
of the cloth the fertility of its owner would be transferred 
to her. 

When pregnant women experience longings for strange 
kinds of food, it is believed that these really come from 
the child in the womb and must be satisfied if its develop- 
ment is not to be retarded. Consequently in the fifth 


month of a wife's first pregnancy, or shortly before delivery, 
her mother takes to her various kinds of rich food and 
feeds her with them. It is a common custom also for 
pregnant women, driven by perverted appetite, to eat earth 
of a clayey texture, or the ordinary black cotton soil, or 
dried clay scraped off the walls of houses, or the ashes of 
burnt cowdung cakes. This is done by low-caste women 
in most parts of the Province, and if carried to excess leads 
to severe intestinal derangement which may prove fatal. 
A pregnant woman must not cross a river or eat anything 
with a knife, and she must observe various precautions 
against the machinations of witches. At the time of 
delivery the woman sits on the ground and is attended by 
a midwife, who may be a Chamar, Mahar or Ganda by 
caste. The navel cord is burnt in the lying-in room, but 
the after-birth, known as Phul, is usually buried in a rubbish 
pit outside the house. The portion of the cord attached to 
the child's body is also burnt when it falls off, but in the 
northern Districts it is preserved and used as a cure for the 
child if it suffers from sore eyes. If a woman who has 
borne only girl children can obtain the dried navel-string 
of a male child and swallow it, they believe that she will 
have a son, and that the mother of the boy will henceforth 
bear only daughters. This is the reason why the cord is 
carefully secreted and not simply thrown away. In Bastar 
on the sixth or naming day the female relatives and friends 
of the family are invited to take food at the house. The 
father touches the feet of the child with blades of dub grass 
{Cynodon dactyloti) steeped first in milk or melted butter, 
then in sandal -paste, and finally in water, and each time 
passes the blade over his head as a mark of respect. The 
blades of grass are afterwards thrown over the roof of the 
house, so that they may not be trampled under foot. 
The women guests then bring leaf-cups containing rice and 
a few copper coins, which they offer to the mother, the 
younger ones bowing before her with a prayer that the 
child may grow as old as the speaker. All the women 
kiss the child, and the elder ones the mother also. The 
offerings of rice and coins are taken by the midwife. 

The names of the Halbas are. of the ordinary type 16. Names. 

i 9 8 HA LB A part 

found in Chhattlsgarh, but at present they often add the 
termination Sinha or Singh in imitation of the Rajputs. 
Two names are sometimes given, one for daily use and 
the other for comparison with that of the girl when the 
marriage is to be arranged. As already seen, either the 
bride's or bridegroom's name may be changed to make 
their union auspicious. When a daughter-in-law comes into 
her husband's house she is usually not called by her own 
name, but by some nickname or that of her home, as 
Jabalpurwali, Raipurwali (she who comes from Jabalpur or 
Raipur), and so on. Sometimes men of the caste are 
addressed by the name of the clan or section and not by 
their own. A woman must not utter the names of her 
husband, his parents or brothers, nor of the sons of his 
elder brother and his sisters. But for these last as well as 
for her own son-in-law she may invent fictitious names. 
These rules she observes to show her respect for her 
husband's relatives. A child must not be called by name 
at night, because if an owl hears the name and repeats it 
the child will probably die. The owl is everywhere regarded 
as a bird of the most evil omen. Its hoot is unlucky, and 
a house in which its nest is built will be destroyed or 
deserted. If it perches on the roof of a house and hoots, 
some one of the family will probably fall ill, or if a member 
of the household is already ill, he or she will probably die. 
17. Social The social customs of the caste present some differ- 

ences. In Bastar, where they have a fairly high status, 
the Purait Halbas abstain from liquor, though they 
will eat the flesh of clean animals and of the wild pig. 
The Halbas of Raipur on the other hand, who are usually 
farmservants, will eat fowls, pigs and rats, and abstain only 
from beef and the leavings of others. In Bastar, Sunars, 
Kurmis and castes of similar position will take water from 
the hands of a Halba, and Kosaria Rawats will eat all 
kinds of food with them. In Chhattlsgarh the Halbas will 
accept water from Telis, Kahars and other like castes, and 
will also allow any of them to become a Halba. In 
Chhattlsgarh they will take even food cooked with water 
from the hands of a man of these castes, provided that they 
are not in their own villages. These differences of custom 



are probably due to the varying social status of the caste. 
In Bastar they hold land and behave accordingly, while in 
Chhattlsgarh they are only labourers. They do not employ 
Brahmans for ceremonial purposes but have their own caste 
priest, known as Joshi, while among the Kablrpanthis the 
local Mahant or Bairagi of the sect takes his place. 

They have a caste pandiayat or committee, the head- 18. Caste 
man of which is known as Kursha ; he has jurisdiction * an 
over ten or twenty villages, and is usually chosen from the 
Kotwar, Chanap or Naik sections. It is the duty of the 
men of these sections to scatter the sonpdni or ' water of 
gold ' l as an act of purification over persons who have been 
temporarily put out of caste for social offences. They are 
also the first to eat food with such offenders on readmission 
to social intercourse, and thereby take the sins of these 
persons upon their own heads. In order to counteract the 
effect of this the purifier usually asks three or four other 
men to eat with him at his own house, and passes on a part 
of his burden to them. For such duties he receives a pay- 
ment of money varying from four annas to a rupee and a 
half. Among the offences punished with temporary exclusion 
from caste are those of rearing the lac insect and tasar silk 
cocoons, probably because such work involves the killing of 
the insects and caterpillars which produce the dye and silk. 
In Bastar a man loses his caste if he is beaten with a shoe 
except by a Government servant, and is not readmitted to 
it. If a man seduces a married woman and is beaten with 
a shoe by her husband he is also finally expelled from 
caste. But happily, Mr. Panda Baijnath remarks, shoes are 
very scarce in the State, and hence such cases do not often 
arise. They never yoke cows to the plough as other castes 
do in Bastar, nor do they tie up two cows with the same 

The dress of the Halbas, as of other Chhattlsgarh castes, 19. Dress, 
is scanty, and most of them have only a short cloth about 
the loins and another round the shoulders. They dispense 
with both shoes and head-cloth, but every man must have 
a thread tied round his waist. To this thread in former 
times, Colonel Dalton remarks, the apron of leaves was not 

1 It is simply water in which gold has been clipped. 

200 HALF, A part 

improbably suspended. The women do not wear nose -rings, 
spangles on the forehead or rings on the toes ; but girl children 
have the left nostril pierced, and this must always be done 
on the full moon day of the month of Pus (December). A 
copper ring is inserted in the nostril and worn for a few 
months, but must be removed before the girl's marriage. 
A married woman has a cloth over her head, and smears 
vermilion on the parting of her hair and also on her fore- 
head. An unmarried girl may have the copper ring already 
mentioned, and may place a dab of vermilion on her forehead, 
but must not smear it on the parting of her hair. She goes 
bare-headed till marriage, as is the custom in Chhattisgarh. 
A widow should not have vermilion on her face at all, noi 
should she use glass bangles or ornaments about the ankles. 
She may have a string of glass beads about her neck. A 
woman's cloth is usually white with a broad red border all 
round it. The Gonds and Halbas tie the cloth round the 
waist and carry the slack end from the left side behind 
up the back and over the head and right shoulder ; while 
women of higher castes take the cloth from the right side 
over the head and left shoulder. 

Girls are tattooed before marriage, usually at the age 
of four or five years, with dots on the left nostril and 
centre of the chin, and three dots in a line on the right 
shoulder. A girl is again tattooed after marriage, but before 
leaving for her husband's house. On this occasion four 
pairs of parallel lines are made on the leg above the ankle, 
in front, behind, and on the sides. As a rule, the legs are 
not otherwise tattooed, nor the trunk of the body. Groups 
of dots, triangles and lines are made on the arms, and on 
the left arm is pricked a zigzag line known as the sikri or 
chain, the pattern of which is distinctive. Teli and Gahra 
(Ahlr) women also have the sikri, but in a slightly different 
form. The tattooing is done by a woman of the Dewar 
caste, and she receives some corn and the cloth worn by the 
girl at the time of the operation. If a child is slow in 
learning to walk they tattoo it on the loins above the hips, 
and believe that this is efficacious. Men who suffer from 
rheumatism also get the affected joints tattooed, and are 
said to experience much relief. The tattooing acts no 

ii HALWAI 20 1 

doubt as a blister, and may produce a temporarily beneficial 
effect. It may be compared to the bee-sting cure U>v 
rheumatism now advocated in England. Tattooing is 
believed to enhance the beauty of women, and it is also 
said that the tattoo marks are the only ornament which will 
accompany the soul to the other world. From this belief 
it seems clear that they expect to have the same body in 
the after-life. 

Nearly all the Halbas are now engaged in agri- 21. Occu- 
culture as tenants and labourers. Seven zamlndari estates pat 
are held by members of the caste, six in Bhandara and one 
in Chanda, and they also have some villages in the south 
of the Raipur and Drug Districts. It is probable that they 
obtained this property in reward for military service, at the 
period when they were employed in the armies of the 
Ratanpur kings and of the Gond dynasty of Chanda. In 
the forest tracts of Dhamtari they are considered the best 
cultivators next to the Telis, and they show themselves 
quite able to hold their own in the open country, where 
their villages are usually prosperous. In Bastar they still 
practise shifting cultivation, sowing their crops on burnt-out 
patches of forest. Though hunting is not now one of their 
regular occupations, Mr. Gokul Prasad describes them as 
catching game by the following method : Six or seven men 
go out together at night, tying round their feet ghunghunias 
or two small hollow balls of brass with stones inside which 
tinkle as they move, such as are worn by postal runners. 
They move in Indian file, the first man carrying a lantern 
and the others walking behind him in its shadow. They 
walk with measured tread, and the ghunghunias give out 
a rhythmical harmonious sound. Hares and other small 
animals are attracted by the sound, and at the same time 
half-blinded by the light, so that they do not see the line 
of men. They approach, and are knocked over or caught 
by the men following the leader. 

Halwai. — The occupational caste of confectioners, 
numbering about 3000 persons in the Central Provinces and 
Berar in 191 1. The Halwai takes his name from hakua, a 
sweet made of flour, clarified butter and sugar, coloured with 


saffron and flavoured with almonds, raisins and pistachio- 
nuts. 1 The caste gives no account of its origin in northern 
India, but it is clearly a functional group composed of 
members of respectable middle-class castes who adopted the 
profession of sweetmeat-making. The Halwais are also 
called Mithaihas, or preparers of sweets, and in the Uriya 
country are known as Guria from gur or unrefined sugar. 
The caste has several subdivisions with territorial names, 
generally derived from places in northern India, as Kanaujia 
from Kanauj, and Jaunpuria from Jaunpur ; others are 
Kandu, a grain-parcher, and Dubisya, meaning two score. 
One of the Guria subdivisions is named Haldia from haldi, 
turmeric, and members of this subcaste are employed to pre- 
pare the inahap}'asdd or cooked rice which is served at the 
temple of Jagannath and which is eaten by all castes together 
without scruple. The Gurias have exogamous divisions or 
bargas, the names of which are generally functional, as 
Darban, door-keeper ; Saraf, treasurer ; Bhitarya, one who 
looks to household affairs, and others. Marriage within the 
barga is forbidden, but the union of first cousins is not pro- 
hibited. Marriage may be infant or adult. A girl who has 
a liaison with a man of the caste may be wedded #to him by 
the form used for the remarriage of a widow, but if she goes 
wrong with an outsider she is finally expelled. Widow- 
marriage is allowed, and divorce may be effected for mis- 
conduct on the part of the wife. 

The social standing of the Halwai is respectable. " His 
art," says Mr. Nesfield, 2 " implies rather an advanced state of 
culture, and hence his rank in the social scale is a high one. 
There is no caste in India which considers itself too pure 
to eat what a confectioner has made. In marriage banquets 
it is he who supplies a large part of the feast, and at all 
times and seasons the sweetmeat is a favourite food to a 
Hindu requiring a temporary refreshment. There is a kind 
of bread called pnri, consisting of wheaten dough fried in 
melted butter, which is taken as a substitute for the diapati 
or wheaten pancake by travellers and others who happen to 
be unable to have their bread cooked at their own fire, and 
is made by the Halwais." 

1 Crooke, ii. 481. 2 Brief View, p. 31. 

ii HALWAI 203 

The real reason why the Halvvai occupies a good position 
perhaps simply results from the necessity that other castes 
should be able to take cakes from him. Among the higher 
castes food cooked with water should not be eaten except 
at the hearth after this has been specially cleansed and spread 
with cowdung, and those who are to eat have bathed and 
otherwise purified themselves. But as the need continuously 
arises for travellers and others to take a meal abroad where 
they cannot cook it for themselves, sweetmeats and cakes 
made without water are permitted to be eaten in this way, 
and the Halwai, as the purveyor of these, has been given the 
position of a pure caste from whose hands a Brahman can 
take water. In a similar manner, water may be taken from 
the hands of the Dhlmar who is a household servant, the 
Kahar or palanquin -bearer, the Barai or betel -leaf seller, 
and the Bharbhunja or rice-parcher, although some of these 
castes have a very low origin and occupy the humble posi- 
tion of menial servants. 

The Halwai's shop is one of the most familiar in an 
Indian bazar, and in towns a whole row of them may be seen 
together, this arrangement being doubtless adopted for the 
social convenience of the caste-fellows, though it might be 
expected to decrease the custom that they receive. His 
wares consist of trays full of white and yellow-coloured 
sweetmeats and cakes of flour and sugar, very unappetising 
to a European eye, though Hindu boys show no lack of 
appreciation of them. The Hindus are very fond of sweet 
things, which is perhaps a common trait of an uneducated 
palate. Hindu children will say that such sweets as choco- 
late almonds are too bitter, and their favourite drink, sherbet, 
is simply a mixture of sugar and water with some flavouring, 
and seems scarcely calculated to quench the thirst pro- 
duced by an Indian hot weather. Similarly their tea is so 
sweetened with sugar and spices as to be distasteful to a 

The ingredients of a Halwai's sweets are wheat and 
gram-flour, milk and country sugar. Those called batasJias 
consist merely of syrup of sugar boiled with a little flour, 
which is taken out in spoonfuls and allowed to cool. They 
are very easy to make and are commonly distributed to 

204 HA TKAR part 

schoolbo} r s on any occasion of importance, and are some- 
thing like a meringue in composition. The kind called barafi 
or ice is made from thick boiled milk mixed with sugar, 
and is more expensive and considered more of a treat than 
batdshas. Laddus are made from gram-flour which is mixed 
with water and dropped into boiling butter, when it hardens 
into lumps. These are taken out and dipped in syrup of 
sugar and allowed to cool. Pheni is a thin strip of dough 
of fine wheat-flour fried in butter and then dipped in syrup 
of sugar. Other sweets are made from the flour of singdra 
or water-nut and from chironji, the kernel of the acJidr 1 nut, 
coated with sugar. Of ordinary sweets the cheaper kinds 
cost 8 annas a seer of 2 lb. and the more expensive ones 
10 or 12 annas. Sweets prepared by Bengali confectioners 
are considered the best of all. The Halwai sits on a board 
in his shop surrounded by wooden trays of the different 
kinds of sweets. These are often covered with crowds of 
flies and in some places with a variety of formidable-looking 
hornets. The latter do not appear to be vicious, however, 
and when he wishes to take sweets off a tray the Halwai 
whisks them off with a palm-leaf brush. Only if one of 
them gets into his cloth, or he unguardedly pushes his hand 
down into a heap of sweets and encounters a hornet, he may 
receive a sting of which the mark remains for some time. 
The better-class confectioners now imitate English sweets, 
and at fairs when they retail boiled grain and gJil they 
provide spoons and little basins for their customers. 

1. Deriva- Hatkar, Hatgar. 2 — A small caste of Berar, numbering 

historical a °out 14,000 persons in 191 1. They are found principally 
notice. in the Pusad taluk of Yeotmal District, their villages being 
placed like a line of outposts along the Hyderabad border. 
The Hatkars are a branch of the Dhangar or shepherd caste, 
and in some localities they are considered as a subcaste of 
Dhangars. The derivation of the name Hatkar is obscure, 
but the Hatkars appear to be those Dhangars who first 
took to military service under Sivaji and hence became a 

1 Buchanania latifolia. Lyall's Berar Gazetteer, with some 

2 Based principally on the account notes taken by Mr. Hlra Lai in Bul- 
of the Hatkars on p. 200 of Sir A. dana. 


distinct group. " Undisciplined, often unarmed, men of the 
Mawals or mountain valleys above the Ghauts who were 
called Mawallecs, and of those below the mountains towards 
the sea, called Hetkurees, joined the young leader." l The 
Hatkars were thus the soldiers of the Konkan in Sivaji's 
army. The Ain-i-Akbari states that the Hatkars were 
driven westward across the Wardha by the Gonds. At 
this time (A.D. 1600) they were holding the country round 
Basim by force of arms, and are described as a refractory 
and perfidious race. 2 " The Hatkars of Berar are all Bargi 
or Bangi Dhangars, the shepherds with the spears. They 
say that formerly when going on any expedition they took 
only a blanket seven cubits long and a bear-spear. They 
would appear to have been all footmen. The Naiks or 
village headman of Basim were principally Hatkars. The 
duty of a Naik was to maintain order and stop robbery ; 
but in time they became law-breakers and their men the 
dacoits of the country. Some of them were very powerful, 
and in 1 8 1 8 Nowsaji Naik's troops gave battle to the 
Nizam's regular forces under Major Pitman before Umarkhar. 
He was beaten and sent to Hyderabad, where he died, and 
the power of the Naiks was broken by Major Sutherland. 
He hanged so many that the Naiks pronounce his name to 
this day with awe. To some of the Naiks he gave money 
and told them to settle down in certain villages. Others 
who also came, expecting money, were at once hanged." 3 
But it would appear that only those leaders were hanged 
who did not come in before a certain fixed date. 

The Hatkars are also called Bangi Dhangars, and in 2. The 
Berar rank above other Dhangars because they took to H '™ k ' ai .- S 
soldiering and obtained grants of land, just as the Marathas reverence 
rank above the Kunbis. Another group have given up 
sheep-tending and keep cattle, which is a more respectable 
occupation on account of the sanctity of cattle, and these 
call themselves Gauli Hatkars. These Gauli Hatkars have 
given up drinking liquor and eating fowls. They will not 
touch or sell the milk of buffaloes and cows before sunset 
on Mondays, the day on which they worship Krishna. If 

1 Colonel Meadows Taylor, Tara, p. 404. 
2 Ain-i-Akbari, quoted in Berar Gazetteer, p. 200. 3 Berar Gazetteer. 



3. Funeral 

4. Exo- 

any one is in need of milk on that day they will let him milk 
the animal himself, but will take no price for the milk. On 
a Monday also they will not give fire from their house to 
any member of a low caste, such as a Mahar. On the day 
of Diwali they worship their cows, tying a bunch of wool to 
the animal's forehead and putting rice on it ; they make a 
mud image of Govardhan, the mountain held up by Krishna 
as an umbrella to protect the people from the rain, and then 
let the cows trample it to pieces with their hoofs. If a 
bullock dies with the rope halter through its nose, the owner 
is put out of caste ; this rule al.:o obtains among the Ahlrs 
and Gaulis, and is perhaps responsible for the objection felt 
in some localities to putting string through the nostrils of 
plough- and cart-bullocks, though it is the only means of 
obtaining any control over them. 

Formerly the Hatkars burned the corpses only of men 
who died in battle or the chase or subsequently of their 
wounds, cremation being reserved for this honourable end. 
Others were buried sitting cross-legged, and a small piece of 
gold was placed in the mouth of the corpse. Now they 
either burn or bury the dead according to their means. 
Most of them at the time they were soldiers never allowed 
the hair on their face to be cut. 

The Hatkars of Berar are said to be divided into three 
exogamous clans who apparently marry with each other, 
their names being Poli, Gurdi and Muski. In the Central 
Provinces they have a set of exogamous sections with 
titular names of a somewhat curious nature ; among them 
are Hakkya, said to be so called because their ancestor was 
absent when his cow gave birth to a calf ; Wakmar, one 
who left the Pangat or caste feast while his fellows were 
eating ; and Polya, one who did not take off his turban at 
the feast. 

Hijra, Khasua. 1 — The class of eunuchs, who form a 
separate community, recruited by the admission of persons 
born with this deformity or reduced to the like condition by 
amputation. In Saugor it is said that the Khasuas are 
natural and the Hijras artificial eunuchs, and the Khasuas 

1 Partly based on a paper by Munshi Kanhaya Lai of the Gazetteer Office. 

ii HIJRA 207 

deny that they admit Hijras into their society. They may 
be either Hindus or Muhammadans by birth, but all become 
Muhammadans. Children born in the condition of eunuchs 
are usually made over to the Khasuas by their parents. 
The caste are beggars, and also sing and dance at weddings 
and at the births of male children, and obtain presents of 
grain from the cultivators at seedtime and harvest. They 
wear female clothes and ornaments and assume the names 
of women. They are admitted to mosques, but have to 
stand behind the women, and in Saugor they have their own 
mosque. They observe Muhammadan rites and festivals 
generally, and are permitted to smoke from the huqqas 
of other Muhammadans. They are governed by a caste 
panclidyat or committee, which imposes fines but does not 
expel any member from the community. Each Khasua has 
a beat or locality reserved to him for begging and no other 
may infringe on it, violations of this rule being punished by 
the committee. Sometimes a well-to-do Khasua adopts an 
orphan and celebrates the child's marriage with as much 
expense and display as he can afford, and the Kazi officiates 
at the ceremony. 

The Hijras form apparently a separate group, and the 
following account of them is mainly taken from the Bombay 
Gazetteer} In Gujarat they are the emasculated male 
votaries of the goddess Bouchera or Behechra, a sister of 
Devi. She is the spirit of a martyred Charan or Bhat 
woman. Some Charan women were travelling from Sul- 
khunpur in Gujarat when they were attacked and plundered 
by Kolis. One of the women, of the name of Bouchera, 
snatched a sword from a boy who attended her and with it 
cut off both her breasts. She immediately perished, and 
was deified and worshipped as a form of Devi in the 
Chunwal. 2 The Hijras usually mutilate themselves in the 
performance of a religious vow, sometimes taken by the 
mother as a means of obtaining children, and in rare cases 
by the boy himself to obtain recovery by the favour of the 
goddess from a dangerous illness. 3 Hence it is clear that 

1 Miihannnadaiis of Gujarat, by 2 R&smala, ii. p. 90. 

Khan Bahadur Fazalullah Lutfullah 
Faridi, pp. 21, 22. 3 Faridi, ibidem. 


they worship Boucheraji on the ground that she obtained 
divine honours by self-mutilation and should enable her 
votaries to do the same. But the real reason for the 
Charan woman cutting off her breasts was no doubt that 
her ghost might haunt and destroy the Koli robbers, in 
accordance with the usual practice of the Charans. 1 As a 
further fulfilment of their vow the Hijras pull out the hair 
of their beards and moustaches, bore their ears and noses 
for female ornaments, and affect female speech and manners. 
The meaning of the vow would appear to be that the 
mother sacrifices her great blessing of a boy child and 
transforms him after a fashion into a girl, at the same time 
devoting him to the service of the goddess. Similarly, as a 
much milder form of the same idea, a mother whose sons 
have died will sometimes bore the nose of a later-born son 
and put a small nose-ring in it to make believe he is a girl. 
But in this case the aim is also partly to cheat the goddess 
or the evil spirits who cause the death of children, and 
make them think the boy is a girl and therefore not worth 

The rite of mutilation is described by Mr. Farldi as 
follows : " The initiation takes place at the temple of the 
goddess Behechra about 60 miles from Ahmadabad, where 
the neophyte repairs under the guardianship or adoption 
of some older member of the brotherhood. The lad is 
called the daughter of the old Hijra his guardian. The 
emasculation is a secret rite and takes place under the 
direction of the chief Hijra priest of Behechra. It is said 
that the operation and initiation are held in a house with 
closed doors, where all the Hijras meet in holiday dress. 
A special dish of fried pastry is cooked, and the neophyte 
is bathed, dressed in red female attire, decked with flower- 
garlands and seated on a stool in the middle of the room, 
while the others sing to the accompaniment of a small 
drum and copper cymbals. Another room is prepared for 
the operation, soft ashes being spread on the floor and piled 
in a heap in the centre. When the time for the operation 
approaches, the neophyte is led to the room and is made to 
lie on his back on the ash-heap. The operator approaches 

1 See article on Bhat. 

ii HIJRA 209 

chewing betel-leaf. The hands and legs of the neophyte 
are firmly held by some one of the fraternity, and the 
operator, carelessly standing near with an unconcerned air, 
when he finds the attention of his patient otherwise occupied, 
with great dexterity and with one stroke completely cuts off 
the genital organs. He spits betel and areca juice on the 
wound and staunches the bleeding with a handful of the 
ashes of the babill} The operation is dangerous and not 
uncommonly fatal." Another method is to hold the organs 
in a cleft bamboo and slice them off. The Hijras are 
beggars like the Khasuas, and sometimes become very 
importunate. Soon after the birth of a child in Gujarat 
the hated Hijras or eunuchs crowd round the house for 
gifts. If the demand of one of them is refused the whole 
rank and file of the local fraternity besiege the house with 
indecent clamour and gesture. Their claim to alms rests, 
as with other religious mendicants, in the sacred character 
which attaches to them. In Bombay there is also a belief 
that the god Hanuman cries out once in twelve years, and 
that those men who hear him are transformed into eunuchs. 2 
Some of them make money by allowing spectators to look 
at the mutilated part of their body, and also by the practice 
of pederasty. 

Homosexual practices are believed to be distinctly rare 
among Hindus, and not common among Muhammadans of 
the Central Provinces. For this the early age of marriage 
may probably be considered a principal cause. The Hindu 
sacred books, however, do not attach severe penalties to this 
offence. " According to the Laws of Manu, a twice-born 
man who commits an unnatural offence with a male, or 
has intercourse with a female in a cart drawn by oxen, 
in water or in the daytime, shall bathe, dressed in his 
clothes ; and all these are reckoned as minor offences." s 
In his Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas Dr. 
Westermarck shows that, apart from the genuine cases of 
sexual perversion, as • to the frequency of which opinions 
differ, homosexual love frequently arises in three conditions 

1 Acacia arabica. 3 Laws of M ami, xi. p. 175, quoted 

2 The late Mr. A. M. T. Jackson's in The Origin and Development of the 
notes, Ind. Ant., August 1912, p. 56. Moral Ideas, ii. p. 47 6 - 

VOL. Ill P 


of society. These are, when women are actually scarce, as 
among the Australian aborigines and other primitive races ; 
when the men are frequently engaged in war or in predatory 
expeditions and are separated from their wives for long 
periods, a condition which accounts for its prevalence 
among the Sikhs and Pathans ; and lastly, when women 
are secluded and uneducated and hence their society affords 
little intellectual pleasure to men. This was the case in 
ancient Greece where women received no education and 
had no place at the public spectacles which w r ere the chief 
means of culture ; T and the same reason probably accounts 
for the frequency of the vice among the Persians and 
modern Egyptians. " So also it seems that the ignorance 
and dulness of Muhammadan women, which is a result of 
their total lack of education and their secluded life, is a 
cause of homosexual practices ; Moors are sometimes heard 
to defend pederasty on the plea that the company of boys, 
who have always news to tell, is so much more entertaining 
than the company of women." 2 

The Christian Church in this as in other respects has 
set a very high standard of sexual morality. Unnatural 
crimes were regarded with peculiar horror in the Middle 
Ages, and the punishments for them in English law were 
burying and burning alive, though these were probably 
seldom or never enforced. 3 The attitude of the Church, 
which was reflected in the civil law, was partly inherited from 
the Jews of the Old Testament, and reinforced by similar 
conditions in mediaeval society. In both cases this crime 
was especially associated with the heathen and heretics, as 
shown in Dr. Westermarck's interesting account : 4 

" According to Genesis, unnatural vice was the sin of 
a people who were not the Lord's people, and the Levitical 
legislation represents Canaanitish abominations as the chief 
reason why the Canaanites were exterminated. Now we 
know that sodomy entered as an element in their religion. 
Besides kedesJwth, or female prostitutes, there were kedeshim 
or male prostitutes, attached to their temples. The word 

1 Westermarck, The Origin and 2 Ibidem, ii. p. 471. 

Development of the Moral Ideas, ii. 3 Ibidem, ii. pp. 481, 482. 

P- 47o. • * Ibidem, ii. pp. 487-489. 

ii HIJRA 211 

kddesh, translated ' Sodomite,' properly denotes a man 
dedicated to a deity ; and it appears that such men were 
consecrated to the mother of the gods, the famous Dea 
Syria, whose priests or devotees they were considered to 
be. The male devotees of this and other goddesses were 
probably in a position analogous to that occupied by the 
female devotees of certain gods, who also, as we have seen, 
have developed into libertines ; and the sodomitic acts 
committed with these temple prostitutes may, like the 
connections with priestesses, have had in view to transfer 
blessings to the worshippers. In Morocco supernatural 
benefits are expected not only from heterosexual, but also 
from homosexual intercourse with a holy person. The 
kedeshim are frequently alluded to in the Old Testament, 
especially in the period of the monarchy, when rites of 
foreign origin made their way into both Israel and Judah. 
And it is natural that the Yahveh worshipper should regard 
their practices with the utmost horror as forming part of an 
idolatrous cult. 

" The Hebrew conception of homosexual love to some 
extent affected Muhammadanism, and passed into Christi- 
anity. The notion that it is a form of sacrilege was here 
strengthened by the habits of the Gentiles. St. Paul found 
the abominations of Sodom prevalent among nations who 
had ' changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped 
and served the creature more than the creator.' During 
the Middle Ages heretics were accused of unnatural vice 
as a matter of course. Indeed, so closely was sodomy 
associated with heresy that the same name was applied to 
both. In La Coutume de Touraine- Anjou the word 
herite, which is the ancient form of herc'tique, seems to be 
used in the sense of ' sodomite ' ; and the French bongre 
(from the Latin Bulgarus, Bulgarian), as also its English 
synonym, was originally a name given to a sect of heretics 
who came from Bulgaria in the eleventh century and was 
afterwards applied to other heretics, but at the same time 
it became the regular expression for a person guilty of 
unnatural intercourse. In mediaeval laws sodomy was 
also repeatedly mentioned together with heresy, and the 
punishment was the same for both. It. thus remained a 


religious offence of the first order. It was not only a 
' vitium nefandum et super omnia detestandum,' but it was 
one of the four ' clamantia peccata,' or crying sins, a 
' crime de Majestie, vers le Roy celestre.' Very naturally, 
therefore, it has come to be regarded with somewhat greater 
leniency by law and public opinion in proportion as they 
have emancipated themselves from theological doctrines. 
And the fresh light which the scientific study of the sexual 
impulse has lately thrown upon the subject of homosexuality 
must also necessarily influence the moral ideas relating to 
it, in so far as no scrutinising judge can fail to take into 
account the pressure which a powerful non-volitional desire 
exercises upon an agent's will." 

Holia. 1 — A low caste of drummers and leather-workers 
who claim to be degraded Golars or Telugu Ahlrs, under which 
caste most of the Holias seem to have returned themselves 
in 1 90 1. 2 The Holias relate the following story of their 
origin. Once upon a time two brothers, Golar by caste, set 
out in search of service, having with them a bullock. On 
the way the elder brother went to worship his tutelary deity 
Holiari Deva ; but while he was doing so the bullock acci- 
dentally died, and the ceremony could not be proceeded with 
until the carcase was removed. Neither a Chamar nor any- 
body else could be got to do this, so at length the younger 
brother was prevailed upon by the elder one to take away 
the body. When he returned, the elder brother would not 
touch him, saying that he had lost his caste. The younger 
brother resigned himself to his fate and called himself Holu, 
after the god whom he had been worshipping at the time he 
lost his caste. His descendants were named Holias. But 
he prayed to the god to avenge him for the treachery of his 
brother, and from that moment misfortunes commenced to 
shower upon the Golar until he repented and made what 
reparation he could ; and in memory of this, whenever a 
Golar dies, the Holias are feasted by the other Golars to the 
present day. The story indicates a connection between the 

1 This article is compiled from a returned as against more than 4000 in 
paper by Mr. Babu Rao, Deputy In- 1891; but, on the other hand, in 1901 
spector of Schools, Seoni District. the number of Golars was double that 

2 In this year only 33 Holias were of the previous census. 

ii INJHWAR 213 

castes, and it is highly probable that the Holias are a degraded 
class of Golars who took to the trade of tanning and leather- 
working. When a Holia goes to a Golar's house he must 
be asked to come in and sit down or the Golar will be 
put out of caste ; and when a Golar dies the house must be 
purified by a Holia. The caste is a very numerous one in 
Madras. Here the Holia is superior only to the Madiga or 
Chamar. 1 In the Central Provinces they are held to be 
impure and to rank below the Mahars, and they live on the 
outskirts of the village. Their caste customs resemble 
generally those of the Golars. They believe their traditional 
occupation to be the playing of leathern drums, and they still 
follow this trade, and also make slippers and leather thongs 
for agricultural purposes. But they must not make or mend 
shoes on pain of excommunication from caste. They are of 
middle stature, dark in colour, and very dirty in their person 
and habits. Like the Golars, the Holias speak a dialect of 
Canarese, which is known as Golari, Holia or Komtau. Mr. 
Thurston gives the following interesting particulars about the 
Holias : 2 " If a man of another caste enters the house of a 
Mysore Holia, the owner takes care to tear the intruder's 
cloth, and turn him out. This will avert any evil which might 
have befallen him. It is said that Brahmans consider great 
luck will wait upon them if they can manage to pass through 
a Holia village unmolested. Should a Brahman attempt to 
enter their quarters, the Holias turn him out, and slipper 
him, in former times it is said to death." 

Injhwap. 3 — A caste of agricultural labourers and fisher- 1. Origin 
men found in the Maratha tract of the Wainganga Valley, 
comprised in the Bhandara and Balaghat Districts. In 1901 
they numbered 8500 persons as against 11,000 in 1891. 
The name Injhwar is simply a Marathi corruption of Binjh- 
war, as is for bis (twenty) and Ithoba for Bithoba or Vithoba. 
In his Census Report of 1891 Sir Benjamin Robertson 
remarked that the name was often entered in the census 
books as Vinjhwar, and in Marathi B and V are practically 

1 Mysore Census Report (1891), p. 3 This article is principally based on 

254. information collected by Mr. Ilira Lai 

, 2 Ethnographic Notes in Southern in Bhandara. 
India, p. 258. 


2i 4 INJHWAR part 

interchangeable. The Injhwars are thus a caste formed from 
the Binjhwars or highest subdivision of the Baiga tribe of 
Balaghat ; they have adopted the social customs of the 
Marathi-speaking people among whom they live, and have 
been formed into a separate caste through a corruption of 
their name. They still worship Injha or Vindhya Devi, the 
tutelary deity of the Vindhyan hills, from which the name of 
the Binjhwars is derived. The Injhwars have also some 
connection with the Gowari or cowherd caste of the Maratha 
country. They are sometimes known as Dudh-Gowari, and 
say that this is because an InjLwar woman was a wet-nurse 
of the first-born Gowari. The Gowaris themselves, as a low 
caste of herdsmen frequenting the jungles, would naturally be 
brought into close connection with both the Baigas and Gonds. 
Their alliances with the Gonds have produced the distinct 
caste of Gond-Gowari, and it is not improbable that one fact 
operating to separate the Injhwars from their parent tribe of 
the Baigas was an admixture of Gowari blood. But they 
rank higher than the Gond-Gowaris, who are regarded as 
impure ; this is probably on account of the superior position 
of the Binjhwars, who form the aristocracy of the Baiga tribe, 
and, living in the forests, were never reduced to the menial 
and servile condition imposed on the Gond residents in 
Hindu villages. The Injhwars, however, admit the superiority 
of the Gowaris by taking food from their hands, a favour 
which the latter will not reciprocate. Several of the sept or 
family names of the caste are also taken from the Gonds, and 
this shows an admixture of Gond blood ; the Injhwars are 
thus probably a mixed group of Gonds, Gowaris, and 
Binjhwars or Baigas. 
Sub- The Injhwars have four subcastes, three of the territorial 

and one of the occupational class. These are the Lanjiwar, 
or those living round Lanji in Balaghat ; the Korre, or those 
of the Korai hill tract in Seoni ; the Chandewar or Maratha 
Injhwars who belong to Chanda, and are distinguished by 
holding their weddings only in the evening after the Maratha 
custom, while other Injhwars will perform the ceremony at 
any time of day ; and the Sonjharias, or those who have 
taken to washing for gold in the beds of streams. Of their 
sept or family names some, as already stated, are taken from 



the Gonds, as Mesram, Tekam, Marai, Ukya. 1 Three names, 
Bhoyar, Kawara and Kohrya (from Kohli), are the names of 
other castes or tribes, and indicate that members of these 
became Injhwars and founded families ; and others are of 
the territorial, titular and totemistic types. Among them 
may be mentioned the Plthvalyas, from pith, flour ; all 
families of this sept should steal a little rice from somebody 
else's field as soon as it is ripe, husband and wife making a 
joint expedition for the purpose. They must not speak a 
word to each other from the time they start until they have 
brought back the rice, pounded and cooked it, offered it to 
the god and made their meal. The Paunpats, named after 
the lotus, will not touch the flowers or leaves of the lotus 
plants, or even drink water from a tank in which the lotus 
grows. The Dobokria Rawats are so named because they 
make an offering of two goats to their gods.- Some of the 
septs are subdivided. Thus the Sonwani or gold-water sept, 
whose members readmit social culprits, is divided into the 
Paunpat or lotus Sonwanis ; the Gurhiwal, who revere a 
brass vessel tied to a bamboo on the first day of the year ; 
the Sati Sonwani, who worship the spirit of a sati woman 
ancestor ; and the Mungphatia Sonwanis, whose token is the 
broken mung pulse. At present these subsepts cannot 
intermarry, the union of any two Sonwanis being forbidden, 
but it seems likely that intermarriage may be permitted in 
the course of time. 

The social customs of the Injhwars resemble those of 3. Mar- 
the lower Maratha castes.' 2 Marriage is forbidden between nage and 

53 other 

members of the same sept and first cousins, and a man should customs. 
also not take a wife from the sept of his brother or sister-in- 
law. This rule prevents the marriage of two brothers to 
two sisters, to which there is of course no objection on the 
ground of affinity. Girls are usually not married until they 
are grown up ; but in places where .they have been much 
subjected to Hindu influences, the Injhwars will sometimes 
wed an adult girl to a basil plant in order to avoid the 
stigma of keeping her in the house unmarried. The boy's 
father goes to make a proposal of marriage, and the girl's 
father, if he approves it, intimates his consent by washing 

1 A corruption of Uika. 2 See the articles Mahar and Kunbi. 

2 i6 INJHWAR part 

his visitor's feet. A bride-price of about Rs. 20 is usually 
paid, which is increased somewhat if the bridegroom is a 
widower, and decreased if the bride has been seduced before 
marriage. The marriage is performed by throwing coloured 
rice over the couple. Divorce and the remarriage of widows 
are permitted. A bachelor who marries a widow must 
first go through the ceremony with an arka or swallow- 
wort plant, this being considered his real marriage. The 
Injhwars usually bury the dead, and in accordance with 
Dravidian custom place the corpse in the grave with the feet 
to the north. When the body is that of a young girl, the 
face is left exposed as it is carried to the grave. The 
regular ceremonies are performed for the welfare of the 
deceased's soul, and they try to ascertain its fate in the next 
incarnation by spreading flour on the ground overnight and 
looking in the morning for anything resembling the foot- 
mark of a human being, animal or bird. On the festival of 
Akhatlj and in the month of Kartik (October) they offer 
libations to the dead, setting out a large pitcher of water 
for a male and a small one for a female. On the former 
they paint five lines of sandalwood to represent a man's 
caste-mark, and on the latter five splashes of kunku or the 
red powder which women rub on their foreheads. A burning 
lamp is placed before the pitchers, and they feed a male 
Mali or gardener as representative of a dead man and a 
female for a woman. 
4 . Occupa- The Injhwars are generally labourers and cultivators, 
non and w hile the Soniharias wash for gold. The women of the 

social J ... 

status. Maratha or Chandewar subcaste serve as midwives. Their 
social status is low, and in the forest tracts they will eat 
snakes and crocodiles, and in fact almost anything except 
beef. They will admit members of the Brahman, Dhimar 
(waterman), Mali and Gowari castes into the community on 
payment of a premium of five to fifteen rupees and a dinner 
to the caste-fellows. The candidate for admission, whether 
male or female, must have his head shaved clean. Both 
men and women can obtain pardon for a liaison with an 
outsider belonging to any except the most impure castes by 
giving a feast to the community. To be beaten with a shoe 
involves temporary excommunication from caste, unless the 

ii J AD AM 217 

striker be a Government official, when no penalty is inflicted. 
If a man kills a cat, he is required to have an image of it 
made in silver, which, after being worshipped, is presented 
to a temple or thrown into a river. 

Jadam. 1 — A branch of the well-known Yadu or Yadava 
sept of Rajputs which has now developed into a caste in the 
Nerbudda valley. Colonel Tod describes the Yadu as the 
most illustrious of all the tribes of India, this name having 
been borne by the descendants of Buddha, progenitor of the 
Lunar race. The Yadavas were the herdsmen of Mathura, 
and Krishna was born in this tribe. His son was Bharat, 
from whom the classical name of Bharatavarsha for India 
is held to be derived. It is related that when Krishna was 
about to ascend to heaven, he reflected that the Yadavas had 
multiplied exceedingly and would probably cause trouble 
to the world after he had left it. So he decided to reduce 
their numbers, and one day he persuaded one of his 
companions to dress up as a pregnant woman in jest, and 
they took him to the hermitage of the saint Durvasa and 
asked the saint to what the woman would give birth. 
Durvasa, who was of a very irascible temper, divined that 
he was being trifled with, and replied that a rice-pestle 
would be born by which the Yadavas would be destroyed. 
On the return of the party they found to their astonishment 
that a pestle had actually, as it were, been born from the 
man. So they were alarmed at the words of the saint and 
tried to destroy the pestle by rubbing it on a stone. But 
as the sawdust of the pestle fell on the ground there sprang 
up from it the shoots of the Gondla or Elephant grass, 
which grows taller than the head of a man on horseback. 
And some time afterwards a quarrel arose among the 
Yadavas, and they tore up the stalks of this grass and slew 
each other with it. Only one woman escaped, whose son 
was afterwards the King of Mathura and the ancestor of the 
existing tribe. Another body, however, with whom was 
Krishna, fled to Gujarat, and on the coast there built the 
great temple of Dwarka, in the place known as Jagat Khant. 

1 This article is partly based on a paper by Bihari Lai, Patwari, of 

2 ,8 J AD AM I'ART 

or the World's End. The story has some resemblance to 
that of the sowing of the dragon's teeth by Cadmus at Thebes. 
The principal branches of the Yadavas are the Yaduvansi 
chiefs of Karauli, in Rajputana, and the Bhatti chiefs of 
Jaisalmer. The Jadams of Hoshangabad say that they 
immigrated from Karauli State about 700 years ago, having 
come to the country on a foray for plunder and afterwards 
settled here. They have now developed into a caste, 
marrying among themselves. In Hoshangabad the caste 
has two subdivisions, the Kachhotia who belong principally 
to the Sohagpur tahsil, and the Adhodias who live in Seoni 
and Harda. These two groups are endogamous and do not 
marry with each other. The Kachhotia are the offspring of 
irregular unions and are looked down upon by the others. 
They say that they have fifty-two exogamous groups or 
sections, but this number is used locally as an expression of 
indefinite magnitude. All the sections appear to be named 
after villages where their ancestors once lived, but the pre- 
ference for totemism has led some of the groups to connect 
their names with natural objects. Thus the designation of 
the Semaria section may be held to be derived from a 
village of that name, both on account of its form, and 
because the other known section -names are taken from 
villages. But the Semaria Jadams have adopted the semar 
or cotton-tree as their totem and pay reverence to this. 1 

Infant-marriage is favoured in the caste, and polygamy 
is also prevalent. This is often the case among the agri- 
cultural castes, where a man will marry several wives in 
order to obtain their assistance in his cultivation, a wife 
being a more industrious and reliable worker than a hired 
servant. No penalty is, however, imposed for allowing a 
girl to reach adolescence before marriage, and this not 
infrequently happens. If a girl becomes with child through 
a man of the caste she is united to him by a simple rite 
known as gunda, in which she merely gives him a ring or 
throws a garland of flowers over his neck. A caste feast is 

1 Semaria is a common name of Totem is perhaps rather a strong word 

villages, and is of course as such derived for the kind of veneration paid ; the 

from the semar tree, but the argument vernacular term used in Bombay is 

is that the Jadams took the name from devak. 
the village and not from the tree. 

ii JADUA 219 

also exacted, and the couple are then considered to be married. 
The remarriage of widows is permitted, but it is known by 
the opprobrious name of Kukar-gauna or ' dog-marriage,' 
signifying that it is held to be little or no better than a 
simple illicit connection. Divorce is also somewhat common 
in the caste, notwithstanding that the person who occupies 
the position of co-respondent must repay to the husband 
the expenses incurred by him on the marriage ceremony. 
Some women are known to have had ten or twelve husbands. 
The Jadams are proprietors, tenants and labourers, and 
are reckoned to be efficient cultivators ; they plough with 
their own hands and allow their women to work in the fields. 
They will also eat food cooked with water in the field, which 
is against the practice of the higher castes. They eat flesh, 
including that of the wild pig, and fish, but abstain from 
liquor, and will take food cooked with water only from 
Jijhotia or Sanadhya Brahmans who are their family 
priests. A Brahman will take water from the hands of a 
Jadam in a metal, but not in an earthen, vessel. Boys are 
invested with the sacred thread at the time of their wedding, 
a common practice among the higher agricultural castes, 
and one pointing to the hypothesis suggested in the article 
on Gurao that the investiture with the sacred thread was in 
its origin a rite of puberty. The women wear a peculiar 
dress know as sawang, consisting of a small skirt of about 
six feet of cloth and a long body-cloth wrapped round the 
waist and over the shoulders. They also have larger 
spangles on the forehead than other women. The women 
of the caste are emancipated to an unusual degree, and it 
is stated that they commonly accompany their husbands to 
market for shopping, to prevent them from being cheated. 
Dr. Hunter describes the Jadam as a brave soldier, but a 
bad agriculturist ; but in the Central Provinces his courage 
is rated less highly, and a proverb quoted about him is : 
' Patta khatka, Jadam satka,' or ' The Jadam trembles at the 
rustle of a leaf.' 

Jadua-, Jaduah-Brahman. 1 — This is the name of a 

1 This article is based on an account Superintendent of Police, I'atna, and 
of the Jaduas by Mr. A. Knyvett, kindly communicated by Mr. C. W. C. 


class of swindlers, who make money by pretending to turn 
other metals into gold or finding buried treasure. They 
are believed to have originated from the caste of Bhadris or 
Jyotishis, the astrologers of western India. The Jyotishi 
or Joshi astrologers are probably an offshoot of the Brahman 
caste. The name Jadua is derived from jddu, magic. The 
Bhadris or Jyotishis were in former times, Mr. Knyvett 
writes, attached to the courts of all important rajas in 
western India, where they told fortunes and prophesied 
future events from their computations of the stars, often 
obtaining great influence and being consulted as oracles. 
Readers of Quentin Durward will not need to be reminded 
that an exactly similar state of things obtained in Europe. 
And both the European and Indian astrologers were 
continually searching for the philosopher's stone and 
endeavouring by the practice of alchemy to discover the 
secret of changing silver and other metals into gold. It is 
easy to understand how the more dishonest members of the 
community would come to make a livelihood by the pretence 
of being possessed of this power. The Jaduas belong 
principally to Bihar, and Mr. Knyvett's account of them is 
based on inquiries in that Province. But it is probable 
that, like the Bhadris, travelling parties of Jaduas occasionally 
visit the Central Provinces. Their method of procedure is 
somewhat as follows. They start out in parties of three or 
four and make inquiries for the whereabouts of some likely 
dupe, in the shape of an ignorant and superstitious person 
possessed of property. Sometimes they settle temporarily 
in a village and open a small grain-shop in order to facilitate 
their search. When the victim has been selected one of 
them proceeds to his village in the disguise of a Sadhu or 
anchorite, being usually accompanied by another as his 
chela or disciple. Soon afterwards the others come, one of 
them perhaps posing as a considerable landholder, and go 
about inquiring if a very holy Brahman has been seen. 
They go to the house of their intended dupe, who naturally 
asks why they are seeking the Brahman ; they reply that 

Plowden, Deputy Inspector-General Provinces Criminal Investigation De- 
of Police, Bengal, through Mr. G. W. partment. 
Gayer, in charge of the Central 

ii JADUA 221 

they have come to do homage to him as he had turned their 
silver and brass ornaments into gold. The dupe at once 
goes with them in search of the Brahman, and is greatly 
impressed by seeing the landholder worship him with 
profound respect and make him presents of cloth, money 
and cattle. He at once falls into the trap and says that he 
too has a quantity of silver which he would like to have 
turned into gold. The Brahman pretends reluctance, but 
eventually yields to the dupe's entreaties and allows himself 
to be led to the latter's house, where with his chela he takes 
up his quarters in an inner room, dark and with a mud floor. 
A variety of tricks are now resorted to, to impress the dupe 
with the magic powers of the swindlers. Sometimes he is 
directed to place a rupee on his forehead and go to the door 
and look at the sun for five minutes, being assured that 
when he returns the Brahman will have disappeared by 
magic. Having looked at the sun for five minutes he can 
naturally see nothing on returning to a dark room and 
expresses wonder at the Brahman's disappearance and 
gradual reappearance as his eyes get accustomed to the 
darkness. Or if the trick to be practised is the production 
of buried treasure, a rupee may be buried in the ground and 
after various incantations two rupees are produced from the 
same spot by sleight of hand. Or by some trickery the 
victim is shown the mouth of an earthen vessel containing 
silver or gold coins in a hole dug in the ground. He is told 
that the treasure cannot be obtained until more treasure has 
been added to it and religious rites have been performed. 
Sometimes the victim is made to visit a secluded spot, where 
he is informed that after repeating certain incantations Sivaji 
will appear before him. A confederate, dressed in tinsel and 
paint, appears before the victim posing as Sivaji, and informs 
him that there is treasure buried in his house, and it is only 
necessary to follow the instructions of the holy Brahman in 
order to obtain it. The silver ornaments, all that can be 
collected, are then made over to the Brahman, who pretends 
to tie them in a cloth or place them in an earthen pot and 
bury them in the floor of the room. If buried treasure is to 
be found the Brahman explains that it is first necessary to 
bury more treasure in order to obtain it, and if the ornaments 


arc to be turned into gold they are buried for the purpose 
of transmutation. During the process the victim is induced 
on some pretence to leave the room or cover himself with a 
sheet, when a bundle containing mud or stones is substituted 
for the treasure. The Brahman calls for ghl, oil and incense, 
and lights a fire over the place where the ornaments are 
supposed to be buried, bidding his victim watch over it for 
some hours or days until his return. The Brahman and his 
disciple, with the silver concealed about them, then leave 
the house, join their confederates and make their escape. 
The duped villager patiently watches the fire until he 
becomes tired of waiting for the Brahman's return, when he 
digs up the earth and finds nothing in the cloth but stones 
and rubbish. 

Jangam, Jangama. — A Sivite order of wandering 
religious mendicants. The Jangams are the priests or 
gurus of the Sivite sect of Lingayats. They numbered 
3500 persons in the Central Provinces and Berar in 191 1, 
and frequent the Maratha country. The Jangam is said to 
be so called because he wears a movable emblem of Siva 
(Jana gama, to come and go) in contradistinction to the 
Sthawar or fixed emblems found in temples. The Jangams 
discard many of the modern phases of Hinduism. They 
reject the poems in honour of Vishnu, Rama and Krishna, 
such as the Bhagavad Glta and Ramayana ; they also deny 
the authority of Brahmans, the efficacy of pilgrimage and 
self-mortification, and the restrictions of caste ; while they 
revere principally the Vedas and the teaching of the great 
Sivite reformer Shankar Acharya. 1 Like other religious 
orders, the Jangams have now become a caste, and are divided 
into two groups of celibate and married members. The 
Gharbaris (married members) celebrate their weddings in 
the usual Maratha fashion, except that they perform no 
horn or fire sacrifice. They permit the remarriage of widows. 
The Jangams wear ochre -coloured or badami clothes and 
long necklaces of seeds called rudraksha 2 beads, which 
resemble a nutmeg in size, in colour and nearly in shape ; 

1 Sherring, Castes and Tribes, iii. p. 123. 
2 The nut of Eleocarpus lanceolatus. 

ii JANGAM 223 

they besmear their forehead, arms and various other parts 
of the body with cowdung ashes. They wear the lingam or 
phallic sign of Siva either about the neck or loins in a little 
casket of gold, silver, copper or brass. As the lingam is 
supposed to represent the god and to be eternal, they are 
buried and not burnt after death, because the lingam must 
be buried with them and must not be destroyed in the fire. 
If any Jangam loses the lingam he or she must not eat or 
drink until it has been replaced by the guru or spiritual 
preceptor. It must be worshipped thrice a day, and ashes 
and del 1 leaves are offered to it, besides food when the 
owner is about to partake of this himself. The Jangams 
worship no deity other than Siva or Mahadeo, and their 
great festival is the Shivratri. Some of them make pilgrim- 
ages to Pachmarhi, to the Mahadeo hills. Most of them 
subsist by begging and singing songs in praise of Mahadeo. 
Grant-Duff gives the Jangam as one of the twenty-four 
village servants in a Maratha village, perhaps as the priest 
of the local shrine of Siva, or as the caste priest of the 
Lingayats, who are numerous in some Districts of Bombay. 
He carries a wallet over the shoulder and a conch-shell and 
bell in the hand. On approaching the door of a house he 
rings his bell to bring out the occupant, and having received 
alms proceeds on his way, blowing his conch-shell, which is 
supposed to be a propitious act for the alms-giver, and to 
ensure his safe passage to heaven. The wallet is meant to 
hold the grain given to him, and on returning home he 
never empties it completely, but leaves a little grain in it 
as its own share. The Jangams are strict vegetarians, and 
take food only from the hands of Lingayats. They bless 
their food before eating it and always finish it completely, 
and afterwards wash the dish with water and drink down 
the water. When a child is born, the priest is sent for and 
his feet are washed with water in a brass tray. The water 
is then rubbed over the bodies of those present, and a few 
drops sprinkled on the walls of the house as a ceremony of 
purification. The priest's great toes are then washed in a 
cup of water, and he dips the lingam he wears into this, 
and then sips a few drops of the water, each person present 

1 Aegle marmelos. 

224 JANGAM part ii 

doing the same. This is called karuna or sanctification. 
He then dips a new lingam into the holy water, and ties it 
round the child's neck for a minute or two, afterwards 
handing it to the mother to be kept till the child is old 
enough to wear it. The dead are buried in a sitting posture, 
the lingam being placed in the palm of the hand. On the 
third day a clay image of Mahadeo is carried to the grave, 
and food and flowers are offered to it, as well as any intoxi- 
cants to which the deceased person may have been addicted. 
The following notice of the Jangams more than a century 
ago may be quoted from the Abb6 Dubois, though the 
custom described does not, so far as is known, prevail at 
present, at least in the Central Provinces : * " The gurus 
or priests of Siva, who are known in the Western Provinces 
by the name of Jangams, are for the most part celibates. 
They have a custom which is peculiar to themselves, and 
curious enough to be worth remarking. When a guru 
travels about his district he lodges with some member of 
the sect, and the members contend among themselves for 
the honour of receiving him. When he has selected the 
house he wishes to stay in, the master and all the other 
male inmates are obliged, out of respect for him, to leave 
it and go and stay elsewhere. The holy man remains there 
day and night with only the women of the house, whom 
he keeps to wait on him and cook for him, without creating 
any scandal or exciting the jealousy of the husbands. All 
the same, some scandal-mongers have remarked that the 
Jangams always take care to choose a house where the 
women are young." The Jangams are not given to 
austerities, and go about well clad. 

1 Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies, 1897 ed. p. 118. 



i . Theories of the origin of the 6. Brahmanical legend of origin. 
caste. 7. The fats in the Central Pro- 

2. Sir D. Ibbetsons description of vinces. 

the caste. 8. Marriage customs. 

3. Are the fats and Rajputs dis- 9. Funeral rites. 

tinct? 10. The Paida cere7no?iy. 

4. The position of the fat in the 1 1 . Customs at birth. 

Punjab. 1 2. Religion. 

5. Social status of the fats. 13. Social customs. 

1 4. Occupation. 

Jat. 1 — The representative cultivating caste of the Punjab, 1. Theories 
corresponding to the Kurmi of Hindustan, the Kunbi of the ° ■ .* of 
Deccan, and the Kapu of Telingana. In the Central Pro- the caste, 
vinces 10,000 Jats were returned in 191 1, of whom 5000 
belonged to Hoshangabad and the bulk of the remainder 
to Narsinghpur, Saugor and Jubbulpore. The origin of 
the Jat caste has been the subject of much discussion. 
Sir D. Ibbetson stated some of the theories as follows : 2 
" Suffice it to say that both General Cunningham and Major 
Tod agree in considering the Jats to be of Indo-Scythian 
stock. The former identifies them with the Zanthii of 
Strabo and the Jatii of Pliny and Ptolemy ; and holds that 
they probably entered the Punjab from their home on the 
Oxus very shortly after the Meds or Mands, who also were 
I ndo- Scythians, and who moved into the Punjab about a 
century before Christ. . . . Major Tod classes the Jats as 

1 This article is partly based on in- Office. The correct pronunciation of 

formation contributed by Mr. Debendra the caste name is Jat, but in the 

Niith Dutt, Pleader, Narsinghpur ; Mr. Central Provinces it is always called 

Ganga Singh, Extra Assistant Com- Jat. 

missioner, Hoshangabad; and Mr. - J'unjabCensus Report (18S1), para. 

Aduram Chaudhri of the Gazetteer 421. 

VOL. HI 225 Q 

226 jAT PARI 

one of the great Rajput tribes, and extends his identification 
with the Getae to both races ; but here General Cunningham 
differs, holding the Rajputs to belong to the original Aryan 
stock, and the Jats to a later wave of immigrants from 
the north-west, probably of Scythian race." It is highly 
probable that the Jats may date their settlement in the 
Punjab from one of the three Scythian inroads mentioned 
by Mr. V. A. Smith, 1 but I do not know that there is as yet 
considered to be adequate evidence to identify them with 
any particular one. 

The following curious passage from the Mahabharata 
would appear to refer to the Jats : 2 

" An old and excellent Brahman reviling the countries 
Bahlka and Madra in the dwelling of Dhritarashtra, related 
facts long known, and thus described those nations. 
External to the Himavan, and beyond the Ganges, beyond 
the Sarasvati and Yamuna rivers and Kurukshetra, between 
five rivers, and the Sindhu as the sixth, are situated the 
Bahlkas, devoid of ritual or observance, and therefore to be 
shunned. Their figtree is named Govardhana {i.e. the place 
of cow-killing) ; their market-place is Subhadram (the place 
of vending liquor : at least so say the commentators), and 
these give titles to the doorway of the royal palace. A 
business of great importance compelled me to dwell amongst 
the Bahlkas, and their customs are therefore well known to 
me. The chief city is called Shakala, and the river Apaga. 
The people are also named Jarttikas ; and their customs are 
shameful. They drink spirits made from sugar and grain, 
and eat meat seasoned with garlic ; and live on flesh and 
wine : their women intoxicated appear in public places, with 
no other garb than garlands and perfumes, dancing and 
singing, and vociferating indecencies in tones more harsh 
than those of the camel or the ass ; they indulge in 
promiscuous intercourse and are under no restraint. They 
clothe themselves in skins and blankets, and sound the 
cymbal and drum and conch, and cry aloud with hoarse 
voices : ' We will hasten to delight, in thick forests and in 

1 Early History of India. translated by Professor H. H. Wilson, 

and quoted in vol. i. pp. 260, 262 of 

2 Mahabharata, viii. 2026, et seq., Dr. J. Wilson's Indian Caste. 


pleasant places ; we will feast and sport ; and gathering on 
the highways spring upon the travellers, and spoil and 
scourge them!' In Shakala, a female demon (a Rakshasi) 
on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight sings aloud : ' I 
will feast on the flesh of kine, and quaff the inebriating spirit 
attended by fair and graceful females.' The Sudra-like 
Bahlkas have no institutes nor sacrifices ; and neither deities, 
manes, nor Brahmans accept their offerings. They eat out of 
wooden or earthen plates, nor heed their being smeared with 
wine or viands, or licked by dogs, and they use equally in 
its various preparations the milk of ewes, of camels and of 
asses. Who that has drunk milk in the city Yugandhara 
can hope to enter Svarga ? Bahi and Hika were the names 
of two fiends in the Vipasha river ; the Bahlkas are their 
descendants and not of the creation of Brahma. Some say 
the Arattas are the name of the people and Bahlka of the 
waters. The Vedas are not known there, nor oblation, nor 
sacrifice, and the gods will not partake of their food. The 
Prasthalas (perhaps borderers), Madras, Gandharas, Arattas, 
Khashas, Vasas, Atisindhus (or those beyond the Indus), 
Sauvlras, are all equally infamous. There one who is by 
birth a Brahman, becomes a Kshatriya, or a Vaishya, or a 
Sudra, or a Barber, and having been a barber becomes a 
Brahman again. A virtuous woman was once violated by 
Aratta ruffians, and she cursed the race, and their women 
have ever since been unchaste. On this account their heirs 
are their sisters' children, not their own. All countries have 
their laws and gods : the Yavanas are wise, and pre- 
eminently brave ; the Mlechchas observe their own ritual, 
but the Madrakas are worthless. Madra is the ordure of 
the earth : it is the region of inebriety, unchastity, robbery, 
and murder : fie on the Panchanada people ! fie on the 
Aratta race ! " 

In the above account the country referred to is clearly 
the Punjab, from the mention of the five rivers and the 
Indus. The people are called Bahlka or Jarttika, and would 
therefore seem to be the Jats. And the account would 
appear to refer to a period when they were newly settled in 
the Punjab and had not come under Hindu influence. But 
at the same time the Aryans or Hindus had passed through 

22 8 JAT PART 

the Punjab and were settled in Hindustan. And it would 
therefore seem to be a necessary inference that the Jats were 
comparatively late immigrants, and were one of the tribes 
who invaded India between the second century B.C. and the 
fifth century A.D. as suggested above. 

2 . Sir d. Sir D. Ibbetson held that the Jats and Rajputs must be, 
ibbetson's to some extent at least, of the same blood. Though the 

description . , ., 

of the Jats are represented in the Central Provinces only by a small 
body of immigrants it will be permissible to quote the follow- 
ing passages from his admirable and classical account of the 
caste : 1 

" It may be that the original Rajput and the original 
Jiit entered India at different periods in its history, though 
to my mind the term Rajput is an occupational rather than 
an ethnological expression. But if they do originally re- 
present two separate waves of immigration, it is at least 
exceedingly probable, both from their almost identical phy- 
sique and facial character and from the close communion 
which has always existed between them, that they belong to 
one and the same ethnic stock ; while, whether this be so 
or not, it is almost certain that they have been for many 
centuries and still are so intermingled and so blended into 
one people that it is practically impossible to distinguish 
them as separate wholes. It is indeed more than probable 
that the process of fusion has not ended here, and that the 
people who thus in the main resulted from the blending of 
the Jat and the Rajput, if these two were ever distinct, is by 
no means free from foreign elements. . . . 

3. Are the " But whether Jats and Rajputs were or were not 
Rajpats originally distinct, and whatever aboriginal elements may 
distinct? have been affiliated to their society, I think that the two now 

form a common stock, the distinction between Jat and Rajput 
being social rather than ethnic. I believe that those families 
of that common stock whom the tide of fortune has raised to 
political importance have become Rajputs almost by mere 
virtue of their rise ; and that their descendants have retained 
the title and its privileges on the condition, strictly enforced, 
of observing the rules by which the higher are distinguished 
from the lower castes in the Hindu scale of precedence ; of 

1 Ibidem, paras. 422-424. 


preserving their purity of blood by refusing to marry with 
families of inferior social rank, of rigidly abstaining from 
widow-marriage, and of refraining from degrading occupa- 
tions. Those who transgressed these rules have fallen from 
their high position and ceased to be Rajputs ; while such 
families as, attaining a dominant position in their territory, 
began to affect social exclusiveness and to observe the rules, 
have become not only Rajas but also Rajputs or sons of 
Rajas. For the last seven centuries at least the process of 
elevation has been almost at a standstill. Under the Delhi 
Emperors king-making was practically impossible. Under 
the Sikhs the Rajput was overshadowed by the Jat, who 
resented his assumption of superiority and his refusal to join 
him on equal terms in the ranks of the Khalsa, deliberately 
persecuted him wherever and whenever he had the power, 
and preferred his title of Jat Sikh to that of the proudest 
Rajput. On the frontier the dominance of Pathans and 
Biloches and the general prevalence of Muhammadan feelings 
and ideas placed recent Indian origin at a discount, and led 
the leading families who belonged to neither of these two 
races to claim connection not with the Kshatriyas of the 
Sanskrit classics but with the Mughal conquerors of India 
or the Qureshi cousins of the Prophet ; in so much that even 
admittedly Rajput tribes of famous ancestry, such as the 
Khokha, have begun to follow the example. But in the hills, 
where Rajput dynasties, with genealogies perhaps more 
ancient and unbroken than can be shown by any other 
royal families in the world, retained their independence till 
yesterday, and where many of them still enjoy as great 
social authority as ever, the twin processes of degradation 
from and elevation to Rajput rank are still to be seen in 
operation. The Raja is there the fountain not only of 
honour but also of caste, which is the same thing in 
India. . . . 

" The Jat is in every respect the most important of the 4- The 
Punjab peoples. In point of numbers he surpasses the EhTjSbi 
Rajput, who comes next to him, in the proportion of nearly the Punjab, 
three to one ; while the two together constitute twenty-seven 
per cent of the whole population of the Province. Politically 
he ruled the Punjab till the Khalsa yielded to our arms. 


Ethnologically he is the peculiar and most prominent product 
of the plain of the five rivers. And from an economical and 
administrative point of view he is the husbandman, the 
peasant, the revenue -payer par excellence of the Province. 
His manners do not bear the impress of generations of wild 
freedom which marks the races of our frontier mountains. 
But he is more honest, more industrious, more sturdy, and 
no less manly than they. Sturdy independence indeed and 
patient, vigorous labour are his strongest characteristics. 
The Jat is of all Punjab races the most impatient of tribal or 
communal control, and the one which asserts the freedom of 
the individual most strongly. In tracts where, as in Rohtak, 
the Jat tribes have the field to themselves, and are compelled, 
in default of rival castes as enemies, to fall back upon each 
other for somebody to quarrel with, the tribal ties are strong. 
But as a rule a Jat is a man who does what seems right in 
his own eyes and sometimes what seems wrong also, and 
will not be said nay by any man. I do not mean, however, 
that he is turbulent ; as a rule he is very far from being so. 
He is independent and he is self-willed ; but he is reasonable, 
peaceably inclined if left alone, and not difficult to manage. 
He is usually content to cultivate his fields and pay his 
revenue in peace and quietness if people will let him do so ; 
though when he does go wrong he takes to anything from 
gambling to murder, with perhaps a preference for stealing 
other people's wives and cattle. As usual the proverbial 
wisdom of the villages describes him very fairly though 
perhaps somewhat too severely: 'The soil, fodder, clothes, 
hemp, grass-fibre, and silk, these six are best beaten ; and 
the seventh is the Jat' ' A Jat, a Bhat, a caterpillar, and a 
widow woman ; these four are best hungry. If they eat 
their fill they do harm.' ' The Jat, like a wound, is better 
when bound.' In agriculture the Jat is pre-eminent. The 
market-gardening castes, the Arain, the Mali, the Saini are 
perhaps more skilful cultivators on a small scale ; but they 
cannot rival the Jat as landowners and yeoman cultivators. 
The Jat calls himself zamindar or ' husbandman ' as often as 
Jat, and his women and children alike work with him in the 
fields : ' The Jat's baby has a plough-handle for a plaything.' 
' The Jat stood on his corn heap and said to the king's 

1 1 SOCIA L S TA TUS OF THE J, I 7 'S 2 3 1 

elephant - drivers, Will you sell those little donkeys ? ' 
Socially the Jat occupies a position which is shared by the 
Ror, the Gujar, and the Ahlr, all four eating and smoking 
together. He is, of course, far below the Rajput, from the 
simple fact that he practises widow- marriage. The Jat 
father is made to say in the rhyming proverbs of the 
countryside, ' Come, my daughter, and be married ; if 
this husband dies there are plenty more.' But among the 
widow-marrying castes he stands first. The Bania with 
his sacred thread, his strict Hinduism, and his twice-born 
standing, looks down on the Jat as a Sudra. But the Jat 
looks down upon the Bania as a cowardly, spiritless money- 
grubber, and society in general agrees with the Jat. The 
Khatri, who is far superior to the Bania in manliness and 
vigour, probably takes precedence of the Jat. But among 
the races or tribes of purely Hindu origin, I think that 
the Jat stands next after the Brahman, the Rajput, and the 

The above account clearly indicates the social position 5. Social 
of the Jat. His is the highest caste except the aristocracy ^Tats' 
consisting of the Brahmans and Rajputs, the Khatris who 
are derived from the Rajputs, and the Banias who are 
recognised as ranking not much below the Rajputs. The 
derivation of some of the Rajput clans from the Jats seems 
highly probable, and is confirmed by other instances of 
aristocratic selection in such castes as the Marathas and 
Kunbis, the Raj-Gonds and Gonds, and so on. If, how- 
ever, the Rajputs are a Jat aristocracy, it is clear that the 
Jats were not the Sudras, who are described as wholly 
debased and impure in the Hindu classics ; and the present 
application of the term Sudra to them is a misnomer arising 
from modern errors in classification by the Hindus them- 
selves. The Jats, if Sir D. Ibbetson's account be accepted, 
must have been the main body of the invading host, 
whether Aryan or Scythian, of whom the Rajputs were the 
leaders. They settled on the land and formed village 
communities, and the status of the Jat at present appears 
to be that of a member of the village community and 
part -holder of its land. A slightly undue importance 
may perhaps have been given in the above passage to the 

2 32 J AT PART 

practice of widow-marriage as determining the position of 
a great caste like the Jats. Some Rajputs, Kayasths and 
Banias permit widow-marriage, and considerable sections 
of all these castes, and Brahmans also, permit the practice 
of keeping widows, which, though not called a marriage, 
does not differ very widely from it. The Jat probably 
finds his women too valuable as assistants in cultivation 
to make a pretence at the abolition of widow-marriage in 
order to improve his social status as some other castes do. 
The Jat, of course, ranks as what is commonly called a pure 
caste, in that Brahmans take water to drink from him. 
But his status does not depend on this, because Brahmans 
take water from such menials as barbers, Kahars or bearers, 
Baris or household servants, and so on, who rank far below 
the Jat, and also from the Malis and other gardening castes 
who are appreciably below him. The Jat is equal to the 
Gujar and Ahir so far as social purity is concerned, but 
still above them, because they are graziers and vagrants, 
while he is a settled cultivator. It is from this fact that 
his status is perhaps mainly derived ; and his leading 
characteristics, his independence, self-sufficiency, dogged- 
ness, and industry, are those generally recognised as typical 
of the peasant proprietor. But the Jat, in the Punjab at 
any rate, has also a higher status than the principal 
cultivating castes of other provinces, the Kurmi and the 
Kunbi. And this may perhaps be explained by his purer 
foreign descent, and also by the fact that both as Jat and 
as Sikh his caste has been a military and dominant one in 
history and has furnished princes and heads of states. 

The Jats themselves relate the following Brahmanical 
legend of their origin. On one occasion when Himachal 
or Daksha Raja, the father-in-law of Mahadeo, was per- 
forming a great sacrifice, he invited all the gods to be 
present except his son-in-law Mahadeo (Siva). The latter's 
wife Parvati was, however, very anxious to go, so she asked 
Mahadeo to let her attend, even though she had not been 
invited. Mahadeo was unwilling to do this, but finally 
consented. But Daksha treated Parvati with great want 
of respect at the sacrifice, so she came home and told 
Mahadeo about him. When Mahadeo heard this he was 


filled with wrath, and untying his matted hair (jata) dashed 
it on the ground, when two powerful beings arose from it. 
He sent them to destroy Daksha's sacrifice and they went 
and destroyed it, and from these were descended the race 
of the Jats, and they take their name from the matted locks 
{jata) of the lord Mahadeo. Another saying of the caste 
is that " The ancestor of the Rajputs was Kashyap 1 and of 
the Jats Siva. In the beginning these were the only two 
races of India." 

No detailed description of the Jats need be attempted 7- The 
here, but some information which has been obtained on central 
their customs in this Province may be recorded. They Provinces, 
entered the Hoshangabad District, Sir C. Elliot states, 2 in 
the eighteenth century, and came originally from Bharatpur 
(Bhurtpur), but halted in Marwar on the way. " They are 
the best cultivators in the District after the Pardeshi 
Kurmis, and though they confine themselves to ordinary 
crops they are very laborious, and the tilth of their fields is 
pleasant to look on." For the purposes of marriage the 
caste is divided into exogamous sections in the usual 
manner. The bulk of the section -names cannot be ex- 
plained, being probably corrupted forms of the names of 
villages, but it is noticeable that several pairs of them are 
considered to be related so that their members cannot 
intermarry. Thus no marriages can take place between 
the Golia and Gwalwa, the Choyala and Sarana, the 
Bhukar and Bhari, and the Lathial and Lalar sections, as 
each pair is considered to be descended from a common 

A man may not take a wife either from his own section 8. Mar- 
or that of his mother or his grandmother, nor from those "usfoms. 
of the husbands of his father's sisters. For a Jat wedding 
a square enclosure is marked out with pegs, and a thread 
is wound seven times round the pegs touching the ground, 
and covered over with rice or wheat so that it may 
not be burnt. The enclosure is known as Chaonri, and 
inside it the Jwm or fire sacrifice is performed with butter, 

1 Kashyap was a Rlshi or saint, but tortoise, 
he may probably have developed into 2 Hoshangabad Settlement Report, 

an eponymous hero from Kachhap, a p. 62. 



barley, sesamum, sugar and saffron placed on the top of 
a heap of wheat -flour. After the sacrifice the bride and 
bridegroom walk seven times round the Chaonri with their 
right hands inwards. After this tufts of cotton are thrown 
over the bodies of the bridegroom and bride and they have 
to pick it off each other, the one who finishes first being 
considered the winner. This is apparently a symbolical 
imitation of the agricultural operation of cotton -picking. 
The remarriage of widows is permitted, the ceremony being 
usually performed on a Saturday. A bachelor who is to 
marry a widow must first wall: seven times round a plpal 
tree. Contrary to the usual custom, a widow is forbidden 
to espouse her deceased husband's younger brother or any 
of his relations within three degrees of consanguinity. 

The dead are burnt, with the exception of children 
under seven whose bodies are buried. After the death of a 
married man his widow walks round his body seven times 
with her left hand inwards, or in the reverse direction to the 
perambulation of the Chaonri at marriage. This ceremony 
is therefore, as it were, a sort of undoing of the marriage. 
The women wear lac or ivory bangles, and the widow 
breaks a few of these when the corpse of her husband is 
lifted up to be carried outside the house. She breaks the 
remaining ones on the twelfth day after the death and 
throws them on the chiilha or earthen hearth. 

An important occasion for display among the Jats is 
known as the Paida ceremony. This is sometimes per- 
formed by wealthy families when the head of the household 
or his wife dies or a daughter is married. They get a long 
pole of teakwood and plant it in the ground so that it 
stands some forty feet high. Before being raised the pole 
is worshipped with offerings of milk ; a cart-wheel is tied to 
the upper end and it is then pulled erect with ropes, and if 
any difficulty is experienced the celebrant believes himself to 
be in fault and gives away some cows in charity. On the 
axle of the cart-wheel is secured a brass pot called kaseri, 
containing wheat and money, with a cloth tied over the 
mouth. The pole is left standing for three days, and during 
this time the celebrant feasts the Bhats or genealogists 
of the caste and all the caste-fellows from his own and 


the surrounding villages. If the occasion of the ceremony 
be a death, male and female calves are taken and their 
marriage is performed ; oil and turmeric are rubbed on 
their bodies, and they are led seven times round the high 
pole. The heifer is then given to a Brahman, and the male, 
being first branded on one flank with a figure of a trident 
and on the other with a representation of the sun and moon, 
is set at liberty for life, and no Hindu will injure it. This 
last practice is, however, falling into desuetude, owing to the 
injury which such animals inflict on the crops. A Jat who 
performs the Paida ceremony obtains great consideration in 
the community, and his opinion is given weight in caste 
disputes. A similar liberality is observed in other ways by 
wealthy men ; thus one rich proprietor in Hoshangabad, 
whose son was to be married, gave a feast to all the residents 
of every village through which the wedding procession passed 
on its way to the bride's house. Another presented each of 
his wedding guests with new cloth to the value of ten or 
twelve rupees, and as in the case of a prominent family the 
number of guests may be a thousand or more, the cost of 
such liberality can be easily realised. Similarly Colonel Tod 
states that on the occasion of their weddings the Jats of 
Bikaner even blocked up the highways to obtain visitors, 
whose numbers formed the measure of the liberality and 
munificence of the donor of the fete. Indeed, the desire for 
the social distinction which accrues to generous hosts on such 
occasions has proved to be the undoing of many a once 
notable family. 

If a woman is barren, she is taken to the meeting of the n. Cus- 
boundaries of three villages and bathed there. On the birth ! on ' R at 

° birth. 

of a boy a brass dish is hammered to announce the event, 
but on that of a girl only a winnowing-fan. The navel- 
string is buried in the lying-in room. When the newborn 
child is a few days old, it is taken out of doors and made to 
bow to the sun. When a man proposes to adopt a son the 
caste-fellows are invited, and in their presence the boy is 
seated in his lap, while music is played and songs are sun- 
by the women. Each of the guests then comes up and pre- 
sents the boy with a cocoanut, while sugar is distributed and 
a feast is afterwards given. 


036 J AT PART 

12. Reii- The favourite deity of the caste is Siva or Mahadeo, 

whom they consider to be their ultimate ancestor. On the 
festival of Shivratri (Siva's night) they observe a total fast, 
and pass the whole day and night singing songs in hon- 
our of the god, while offerings of del 1 leaves, flowers, rice 
and sandalwood are made on the following morning. In 
Hoshangabad the caste have two minor deities, Ramji Deo 
and Bairam Deo, who are presumably the spirits of defunct 
warriors. These are worshipped on the eleventh day of 
every month, and many Jats wear an impression of their 
images on a piece of gold or silver round the neck. On the 
Dasahra festival the caste worship their swords and horses 
in memory of their soldier ancestors, and they revere their 
implements of husbandry on the Akshaya Tritiya of Baisakh 
(June), the commencement of the agricultural year, while 
each cultivator does the same on the days that he completes 
the sowing of his rain crops and winter crops. 

13. Social The caste employ Brahmans for the performance of their 
ceremonies, and also as their gurus or spiritual preceptors. 
They eat flesh and drink liquor in the Central Provinces, but 
in Hoshangabad they do not consume either birds or fish ; 
and when they eat mutton or the flesh of the wild pig, they 
do this only outside the house, in order not to offend their 
women, who will not eat flesh. In Hoshangabad the Jats, 
like other immigrants from Marwar, commonly wear their 
hair long and keep the face unshaven, and this gives them 
rather a wild and farouche appearance among the neatly 
shorn Hindus of the Nerbudda Valley. 2 They are of light 
complexion, the difference in shade between the Jats and 
ordinary residents in the locality being apparent to the casual 
observer. Their women are fond of the hollow anklets 
known as bora, which contain small balls or pebbles, and 
tinkle as they walk. Girls are tattooed before marriage, and 
while the operation is being carried out the women of the 
caste collect and sing songs to divert the sufferer's attention 
from the pain. The men have pagris or turbans made of many 
little strings of twisted cloth, which come down over the 
ears. If a man kills a cow or a squirrel, he must stay out- 
side the village for five weeks and nobody looks upon his 

1 Aegle marmelos. 2 Hoshangabad Settlement Report, loc. cit. 


face. After this he should go and bathe in the Ganges, but 
if he is too poor the Nerbudda may be substituted for it with 
the permission of the caste committee. The penalty for 
killing a cat is almost as severe, but to slay a dog involves 
no sin. If a man who has committed a murder escapes con- 
viction but his guilt is known to the caste, it is absolutely 
incumbent on him to go and bathe in the Ganges and be 
purified there, having his head and face shaved. After this 
he may be readmitted to caste intercourse. The caste 
observe some curious rules or taboos : they never drink the 
milk of a black cow ; their women do not have their noses 
bored for nose-rings, but if a woman loses several children 
she will have the nose bored of the next one which is born ; 
women never wear glass bangles, but have them made of 
ivory or lac and clay ; they never wear the bdzuband or 
armlet with bars crossed on hinges which can be pulled in 
or out, but instead of it the kara or rigid bangle ; and the 
caste never keep a basil plant in the house for worship, 
though they may revere it outside the house. As the basil 
is the emblem of Vishnu, and the Jats consider themselves 
to be descended from Siva, they would naturally not be in- 
clined to pay any special respect to the plant. 

The Jats are good cultivators, and at the thirty years' 14. Occu- 
settlement (1865) several members of the caste held con- P atlon - 
'siderable estates ; but a number of these have now been lost, 
owing probably to extravagance of living. In Saugor the 
Jats are commonly employed as masons or navvies. 

JHADI telenga 


i . General notice. 

2. Exogamoiis divisions. 

3. A (/mission of outsiders. 

4. Marriage. 

5 . Religion. 

6. Names. 

7 . Magical devices. 

8. Occupation. 

Jhadi Teleng'a. 1 — A small caste in the Bastar State who 
appear to be a mixture of Gonds and the lower Telugu 
castes, the name meaning ' The jungly Telugus.' Those 
living in the open country are called Mandar Telengas. In 
the census of 1901 these Telengas were wrongly classified 
under the Balji or Balija caste. They numbered about 
5000 persons. The caste have three divisions according to 
their comparative purity of descent, which are named Purait, 
Surait and Pohni. The son of a Purait by a woman 
of different caste will be a Surait, and the son of a Surait 
by such a woman will be a Pohni. Such alliances are now, 
however, infrequent, and most of the Telengas in Bastar 
belong to the Purait or legitimate group. A Pohni will 
take cooked food from the two higher groups and a Surait 
from a Purait. The last will take water from the two lower 
groups, but not food. 

For the purposes of marriage the caste is divided into 
the usual exogamous septs, and these are further arranged 
in two groups. The first group contains the following 
septs : Kudmulwadu, from kudmul, a preparation of rice ; 
Kolmulwadu, from kolmul, a treasure-pit ; Lingawadu, from 
the linga emblem ; and Nagulwadu, a ploughman. The 
second group contains the following septs: Kodamajjiwadu, 

1 This article is entirely based on Rai Bahadur Panda Baijnath, Super- 
an account of the caste furnished by intendent, Bastar State. 



a hunter and trapper of animals ; Wargaiwadu, one who 
makes ropes from wood-fibre; Paspulwadu, one who 
prepares turmeric ; Pankiwadu, one who distributes cooked 
food ; Bhandariwadu, a rich man ; and one or two others. 
The rule is that no man or woman of a sept belonging to 
the first group should marry in any other sept of that group, 
but always from some sept of the other. This, therefore, 
appears to be a relic of the classificatory system of marriage, 
which obtains among the Australian aborigines. The rule 
is now, however, sometimes violated. The caste say that 
their ancestors came from Warangal with the ruling family 
of Bastar. 

They will admit Brahmans, Rajputs and Halbas into 3- Admis 
the community. If a man of any of these castes has a child outsiders 
by a Telenga woman, this child will be considered to belong 
to the same group of the Jhadi Telengas as its mother. If a 
man of lower caste, such as Rawat, Dhakar, Jangam, Kumhar 
or Kalar has such a child it will be admitted into the next 
lower group than that to which the mother belonged. Thus 
the child of a Purait woman by one of these castes will 
become a Surait. A Telenga woman having a child by a 
Gond, Sunar, Lobar or Mehra man is put out of caste. 

A girl cannot be properly married unless the ceremony 4- Mar- 
is performed before she arrives at puberty. After this she nage ' 
can only be married by an abridged rite, which consists of 
rubbing her with oil and turmeric, investing her with glass 
bangles and a new cloth, and giving a feast to the caste. 
In such a case the bridegroom first goes through a sham 
marriage with the branch of a mahua tree. The boy's father 
looks out for a girl, and the most suitable match is considered 
to be his sister's daughter. Before giving away his daughter 
he must ask his wife's brother and his own sister whether 
they want her for one of their sons. When setting out to 
make a proposal they take the omens from a bird called Usi. 
The best omen is to hear this bird's call on both sides of 
them as they go into the jungle. When asking for the girl 
the envoys say to her father, ' You have got rice and pulse ; 
give them to us for our friend's son.' The wedding should be 
held on a Monday or Thursday, and the bridegroom should 
arrive at the bride's village on a Sunday, Tuesday, Wednes- 

24 o J HAD I TELENGA part 

day or Friday. The sacred post in the centre of the marriage- 
shed must be of the mahua T tree, which is no doubt held 
sacred by these people, as by the Gonds, because spirituous 
liquor is made from its fruit. A widow must mourn her 
husband for a month, and can then marry again. But she 
may not marry her late husband's brother, nor his first cousin, 
nor any member of her father's sept. Divorce is allowed, 
but no man will divorce his wife unless she leaves him of 
her own accord or is known to be intriguing with a man 
of lower caste. 
5 . Rdi- Each sept has a deity of its own who is usually some local 

gicm - god symbolised by a wooden post or a stone. Instances of 
these are Kondraj of Santoshpur represented by a wooden 
pillar carved into circular form at the top ; Chikat Raj of 
Bijapur by two bamboos six feet in length leaning against 
a wall ; Kaunam Raj of Gongla by a stone image, and at 
fairs by a bamboo with peacock's feathers tied at the top. 
They offer incense, rice and a fowl to their ancestors in their 
own houses in Chait (March) at the new year, and at the 
festival of the new rice in Bhadon (August). At the sowing 
festival they go out hunting, and those who return empty- 
handed think they will have ill-luck. Each tenant also 
worships the earth-goddess, whose image is then decorated 
with flowers and vermilion. He brings a goat, and rice is 
placed before it at her shrine. If the animal eats the 
sacrifice is held to be accepted, but if not it is returned 
to the owner, and it is thought that some misfortune will 
befall him. The heads of all the goats offered are taken by 
the priest and the bodies returned to the worshippers to be 
consumed at a feast. Each village has also its tutelary god, 
having a hut to himself. Inside this a post of mahua wood 
is fixed in the ground and roughly squared, and a peg is 
driven into it at the top. The god is represented by another 
bamboo peg about two inches long, which is first worshipped 
in front of the post and then suspended from it in a 
receptacle. In each village the smallpox goddess is also 
present in the form of a stone, either with or without a 
hut over it. A Jangam or devotee of the Lingayat sect is 
usually the caste priest, and at a funeral he follows the 

1 Bassia latifolia. 


corpse ringing his bell. If a man is put out of caste through 
getting maggots in a wound or being beaten by a shoe, he 
must be purified by the Jangam. The latter rubs some 
ashes on his own body and places them in the offender's 
mouth, and gives him to drink some water from his own 
lota in place of water from a sacred river. For this the 
offender pays a fee of five rupees and a calf to the Jangam 
and must also give a feast to the caste. The dead are 
either buried or burnt, the head being placed to the east. 
The eldest son has his head and face shaved on the death 
of the father of the family, and the youngest on that of the 

A child is named on the seventh or eighth day after 6. Names. 
birth by the old women. If it is much given to crying they 
consider the name unsuitable and change it, repeating those 
of deceased relatives. When the child stops crying at the 
mention of a particular name, they consider that the relative 
mentioned has been born again in the child and name 
it after him. Often the name of the sept is combined 
with the personal name as Lingam-Lachha, Lingam-Kachchi, 
Panki-Samaya, Panki-Ganglu, Panki-Buchcham, Nagul-Sama, 

When a man wishes to destroy an enemy he makes an 7 . Magical 
image of him with earth and offers a pig and goat to the dev,ces - 
family god, praying for the enemy's destruction. Then the 
operator takes a frog or a tree-lizard which has been kept 
ready, and breaks all its limbs, thinking that the limbs of 
his enemy will similarly be broken and that the man will 
die. Or he takes some grains of kossa, a small millet, and 
proceeds to a sdj 1 or mahua tree. A pigeon is offered to 
the tree and to the family god, and both are asked to 
destroy the foe. The man then ascends the tree, and mutter- 
ing incantations throws the grains in the direction of his 
enemy thinking that they will enter his body and destroy 
him. To counteract these devices a man who thinks himself 
bewitched calls in the aid of a wizard, who sucks out of 
his body the grains or other evil things which have been 
caused to enter it as shown above. Occasionally a man will 
promise a human sacrifice to his god. For this he must get 

1 Boswellia serrata. 
VOL. Ill K ^ 


242 JHADI TELENGA part 11 

some hair or a piece of cloth belonging to somebody else 
and wash it in water in the name of the god, who may then 
kill the owner of the hair or cloth and thus obtain the 
sacrifice. Or the sacrificer may pick a quarrel and assault 
the other person so as to draw blood from him. He picks 
up a drop or two of the blood and offers it to the deity with 
the same end in view. 
Occupa- The caste are cultivators and farmservants, and are, as a 

rule, very poor, living from hand to mouth. They practise 
shifting cultivation and are too lazy to grow the more 
valuable crops. They eat grain twice a day during the four 
months from October to January only, and at other times eke 
out their scanty provision with edible roots and leaves, and 
hunt and fish in the forest like the Muria and Maria Gonds. 


[Bibliography: Sir E. Maclagan's Punjab Census Report (1S91) ; Mr. 
Crooke's Tribes and Castes, articles Jogi, Kanphata and Aghorpanthi ; Mr. Kitts' 
Berar Census Report (1881) ; Professor Oman's Mystics, Ascetics and Sai>i/s 
of India (London : T. Fisher Unwin).] 


1 . The Yoga philosophy. 8. Burial. 

2. Abstraction of the senses or n. Festivals. 

autohypnotism. 1Q Caste subdivisions. 

3. Breathing through either nostril. „ 

11 i3e cr P r in< r 

4. Self-torture of the fogis. ' bi> s ' 

5. Resort to them for oracles. J 2 - 0ther occupations. 

6. Divisions of the order. x 3- Swindling practices. 

7. Hair and clothes. 14. Proverbs about Jogis. 

Jogi, Yogi. — The well-known order of religious mendi- r . The 
cants and devotees of Siva. The Jogi or Yogi, properly so ^ a 
called, is a follower of the Yoga system of philosophy founded 
by Patanjali, the main characteristics of which are a belief 
in the power of man over nature by means of austerities and 
the occult influences of the will. The idea is that one who 
has obtained complete control over himself, and entirely 
subdued all fleshly desires, acquires such potency of mind 
and will that he can influence the forces of nature at his 
pleasure. The Yoga philosophy has indeed so much sub- 
stratum of truth that a man who has complete control of 
himself has the strongest will, and hence the most power to 
influence others, and an exaggerated idea of this power is 
no doubt fostered by the display of mesmeric control and 
similar phenomena. The fact that the influence which can be 
exerted over other human beings through their minds in no 
way extends to the physical phenomena of inanimate nature 
is obvious to us, but was by no means so to the uneducated 


tion of the 
senses or 


Hindus, who have no clear conceptions of the terms mental 
and physical, animate and inanimate, nor of the ideas con- 
noted by them. To them all nature was animate, and all 
its phenomena the results of the actions of sentient beings, 
and hence it was not difficult for them to suppose that men 
could influence the proceedings of such beings. And it is 
a matter of common knowledge that savage peoples believe 
their magicians to be capable of producing rain and fine 
weather, and even of controlling the course of the sun. 1 The 
Hindu sacred books indeed contain numerous instances of 
ascetics who by their austerities acquired such powers as to 
compel the highest gods themselves to obedience. 
Abstrac- The term Yoga is held to mean unity or communion 

with God, and the Yogi by virtue of his painful discipline 

auto- and mental and physical exercises considered himself divine. 

hypnotism. „ ^ & ac j e pt acquires the knowledge of everything past and 
future, remote or hidden ; he divines the thoughts of others, 
gains the strength of an elephant, the courage of a lion, and 
the swiftness of the wind ; flies into the air, floats in the 
water, and dives into the earth, contemplates all worlds at 
one glance and performs many strange things." 2 

The following excellent instance of the pretensions of 
the Yogis is given by Professor Oman : 3 " Wolff went also 
with Mr. Wilson to see one of the celebrated Yogis who 
was lying in the sun in the street, the nails of whose hands 
were grown into his cheeks and a bird's nest upon his head. 
Wolff asked him, ' How can one obtain the knowledge of 
God?' He replied, 'Do not ask me questions; you may 
look at me, for I am God.' 

"It is certainly not easy at the present day," Professor 
Oman states, 4 " for the western mind to enter into the spirit 
of the so-called Yoga philosophy ; but the student of 
religious opinions is aware that in the early centuries of our 
era the Gnostics, Manichaeans and Neo-Platonists derived 
their peculiar tenets and practices from the Yoga-vidya of 
India, and that at a later date the Sufi philosophy of Persia 
drew its most remarkable ideas from the same source. 5 The 

1 This has been fully demonstrated 3 Quoting from Dr. George Smith's 
by Sir J. G. Frazer in The Golden Life of Dr. Wilson, p. 74. 

Bough. J i Ibidem, pp. 13-15. 

2 Colebrooke's Essays. 6 Weber's Indian Literature, p. 239. 


great historian of the Roman Empire refers to the subject in 
the following passage : " The Fakirs of India and the monks 
of the Oriental Church, were alike persuaded that in total 
abstraction of the faculties of the mind and body, the pure 
spirit may ascend to the enjoyment and vision of the Deity. 
The opinion and practice of the monasteries of Mount Athos 
will be best represented in the words of an abbot, who 
flourished in the eleventh century : ' When thou art alone 
in thy cell,' says the ascetic teacher, ' Shut thy door, and 
seat thyself in a corner, raise thy mind above all things 
vain and transitory, recline thy beard and chin on thy 
breast, turn thine eyes and thy thoughts towards the middle 
of the belly, the region of the navel, and search the place of 
the heart, the seat of the soul. At first all will be dark and 
comfortless ; but if you persevere day and night, you will 
feel an ineffable joy ; and no sooner has the soul discovered 
the place of the heart, than it is involved in a mystic and 
ethereal light.' This light, the production of a distempered 
fancy, the creature of an empty stomach and an empty 
brain, was adored by the Quietists as the pure and perfect 
essence of God Himself." 1 

" Without entering into unnecessary details, many of 
which are simply disgusting, I shall quote, as samples, a few 
of the rules of practice required to be followed by the 
would-be Yogi in order to induce a state of Samadhi — 
hypnotism or trance — which is the condition or state in 
which the Yogi is to enjoy the promised privileges of Yoga. 
The extracts are from a treatise on the Yoga philosophy by 
Assistant Surgeon Nobin Chander Pal." J 

" Place the left foot upon the right thigh, and the right 
foot upon the left thigh ; hold with the right hand the right 
great toe and with the left hand the left great toe (the 
hands coming from behind the back and crossing each other) ; 
rest the chin on the interclavicular space, and fix the sight 
on the tip of the nose. 

" Inspire through the left nostril, fill the stomach with 
the inspired air by the act of deglutition, suspend the 

1 Gibbon's Decline and Fall of 'the Roman Empire, chap, lxiii. 
2 Republished in the Theosophist. 

246 JOGI part 

breath, and expire through the right nostril. Next inspire 
through the right nostril, swallow the inspired air, suspend 
the breath, and finally expire through the left nostril. 

" Be seated in a tranquil posture, and fix your sight on 
the tip of the nose for the space of ten minutes. 

" Close the cars with the middle fingers, incline the head 
a little to the right side and listen with each ear attentively 
to the sound produced by the other ear, for the space of ten 

" Pronounce inaudibly twelve thousand times the mystic 
syllable Om, and meditate upon it daily after deep inspira- 

" After a few forcible inspirations swallow the tongue, and 
thereby suspend the breath and deglutate the saliva for two 

" Listen to the sounds within the right ear abstractedly 
for two hours, with the left ear. 

"Repeat the mystic syllable Om 20,736,000 times in 
silence and meditate upon it. 

" Suspend the respiratory movements for the period of 
twelve days, and you will be in a state of Samadhi." 

Another account of a similar procedure is given by 
Buchanan : 1 " Those who pretend to be eminent saints 
perform the ceremony called Yoga, described in the Tantras. 
In the accomplishment of this, by shutting what are called 
the nine passages (dwdra, lit. doors) of the body, the votary 
is supposed to distribute the breath into the different parts 
of the body, and thus to obtain the beatific vision of various 
gods. It is only persons who abstain from the indulgence 
of concupiscence that can pretend to perform this ceremony, 
which during the whole time that the breath can be held in 
the proper place excites an ecstasy equal to whatever woman 
can bestow on man." 
3. Breath- It is clear that the effect of some of the above practices 

g" t ^ rough is designed to produce a state of mind resembling the 
nostril. hypnotic trance. The Yogis attach much importance to the 
effect of breathing through one or the other nostril, and this 

1 Eastern India, ii. p. 756. 


is also the case with Hindus generally, as various rules con- 
cerning it are prescribed for the daily prayers of Brfihmans. 
To have both nostrils free and be breathing through them at 
the same time is not good, and one should not begin any 
business in this condition. If one is breathing only through 
the right nostril and the left is closed, the condition is pro- 
pitious for the following actions : To eat and drink, as diges- 
tion will be quick ; to fight ; to bathe ; to study and read ; 
to ride on a horse ; to work at one's livelihood. A sick 
man should take medicine when he is breathing through his 
right nostril. To be breathing only through the left nostril 
is propitious for the following undertakings : To lay the 
foundations of a house and to take up residence in a new 
house ; to put on new clothes ; to sow seed ; to do service 
or found a village ; to make any purchase. The Jogis prac- 
tise the art of breathing in this manner by stopping up their 
right and left nostril alternately with cotton-wool and breath- 
ing only through the other. If a man comes to a Brahman 
to ask him whether some business or undertaking will 
succeed, the Brahman breathes through his nostrils on to his 
hand ; if the breath comes through the right nostril the 
omen is favourable and the answer yes ; if through the left 
nostril the omen is unfavourable and the answer no. 

The following account of the austerities of the Jogis 4. Sdf- 
during the Mughal period is given by Bernier : ' " Among 
the vast number and endless variety of Fakirs or Dervishes, 
and holy men or Gentile hypocrites of the Indies, many live 
in a sort of convent, governed by superiors, where vows of 
chastity, poverty, and submission are made. So strange is 
the life led by these votaries that I doubt whether my 
description of it will be credited. I allude particularly to 
the people called 'Jogis,' a name which signifies 'United to 
God.' Numbers are seen day and night, seated or lying on 
ashes, entirely naked ; frequently under the large trees near 
talabs or tanks of water, or in the galleries round the Deuras 
or idol temples. Some have hair hanging down to the calf 
of the leg, twisted and entangled into knots, like the coats of 
our shaggy dogs. I have seen several who hold one, and 
some who hold both arms perpetually lifted above the head, 

1 Travels in the Mughal Empire, Constable's edilion, p. 316. 

torture of 
the Jogis. 


the nails of their hands being twisted and longer than half 
my little finger, with which I measured them. Their arms 
are as small and thin as the arms of persons who die in a 
decline, because in so forced and unnatural a position they 
receive not sufficient nourishment, nor can they be lowered 
so as to supply the mouth with food, the muscles having 
become contracted, and the articulations dry and stiff. 
Novices wait upon these fanatics and pay them the utmost 
respect, as persons endowed with extraordinary sanctity. No 
fury in the infernal regions can be conceived more horrible 
than the Jogis, with their naked and black skin, long hair, 
spindle arms, long twisted nails, and fixed in the posture 
which I have mentioned. 

" I have often met, generally in the territory of some 
Raja, bands of these naked Fakirs, hideous to behold. Some 
have their arms lifted up in the manner just described ; the 
frightful hair of others either hung loosely or was tied and 
twisted round their heads ; some carried a club like the 
Hercules, others had a dry and rough tiger-skin thrown over 
their shoulders. In this trim I have seen them shamelessly 
walk stark naked through a large town, men, women, and 
girls looking at them without any more emotion than may 
be created when a hermit passes through our streets. 
Females would often bring them alms with much devotion, 
doubtless believing that they were holy personages, more 
chaste and discreet than other men. 

" Several of these Fakirs undertake long pilgrimages not 
only naked but laden with heavy iron chains, such as are put 
about the legs of elephants. I have seen others who, in con- 
sequence of a particular vow, stood upright during seven or 
eight days without once sitting or lying down, and without 
any other support than might be afforded by leaning forward 
against a cord for a few hours in the night ; their legs in the 
meantime were swollen to the size of their thighs. Others, 
again, I have observed standing steadily, whole hours 
together, upon their hands, the head down and the feet in 
the air. I might proceed to enumerate various other posi- 
tions in which these unhappy men place their body, many 
of them so difficult and painful that they could not be 
imitated by our tumblers ; and all this, let it be recollected, 


is performed from an assumed feeling of piety, of which 
there is not so much as the shadow in any part of the 

The forest ascetics were credited with prophetic powers, 5. Resort 
and were resorted to by Hindu princes to obtain omens and ^^.^ ' 
oracles on the brink of any important undertaking. This 
custom is noticed by Colonel Tod in the following passage 
describing the foundation of Jodhpur : x " Like the Druids of 
the cells, the vana-perist Jogis, from the glades of the forest 
{yanct) or recess in the rocks (gopha), issue their oracles to 
those whom chance or design may conduct to their solitary 
dwellings. It is not surprising that the mandates of such 
beings prove compulsory on the superstitious Rajput ; we do 
not mean those squalid ascetics who wander about India 
and are objects disgusting to the eye, but the genuine Jogi, 
he who, as the term imports, mortifies the flesh, till the wants 
of humanity are restricted merely to what suffices to unite 
matter with spirit, who had studied and comprehended the 
mystic works and pored over the systems of philosophy, 
until the full influence of Maia (illusion) has perhaps un- 
settled his understanding ; or whom the rules of his sect have 
condemned to penance and solitude ; a penance so severe 
that we remain astonished at the perversity of reason which 
can submit to it. We have seen one of these objects, self- 
condemned never to lie down during forty years, and there 
remained but three to complete the term. He had travelled 
much, was intelligent and learned, but, far from having 
contracted the moroseness of the recluse, there was a 
benignity of mien and a suavity and simplicity of manner 
in him quite enchanting. He talked of his penance with no 
vainglory and of its approaching term without any sensation. 
The resting position of this Druid (vana-perisC) was by 
means of a rope suspended from the bough of a tree in the 
manner of a swing, having a cross-bar, on which he reclined. 
The first years of this penance, he says, were dreadfully 
painful ; swollen limbs affected him to that degree that he 
expected death, but this impression had long since worn off. 
To these, the Druids of India, the prince and the chieftain 
would resort for instruction. Such was the ascetic who re- 

1 Rajasthan, ii. p. 19. 

250 JOG/ PART 

commended Joda to erect his castle of Jodhpur on the ' Hill 
of Strife' (Jodaglr), a projecting elevation of the same range 
on which Mundore was placed, and about four miles south 
of it." 

6. Divisions About i 5,ooo Jogis were returned from the Central Pro- 
of the vinces in 191 I. They are said to be divided into twelve 

Panths or orders, each of which venerates one of the twelve 
disciples of Gorakhnath. But, as a rule, they do not know 
the names of the Panths. Their main divisions are the 
Kanphata and Aughar Jogis. The Kanphatas, 1 as the name 
denotes, pierce their ears and wear in them large rings 
{inuudra), generally of wood, stone or glass ; the ears of a 
novice are pierced by the Guru, who gets a fee of Rs. 1-4. 
The earring must thereafter always be worn, and should it 
be broken must be replaced temporarily by a model in cloth 
before food is taken. If after the ring has been inserted the 
ear tears apart, they say that the man has become useless, and 
in former times he was buried alive. Now he is put out of 
caste, and no tomb is erected over him when he dies. It is 
said that a man cannot become a Kanphata all at once, but 
must first serve an apprenticeship of twelve years as an 
Aughar, and then if his Guru is satisfied he will be initiated 
as a Kanphata. The elect among the Kanphatas are known 
as Darshani. These do not go about begging, but remain 
in the forest in a cave or other abode, and the other Jogis go 
there and pay their respects ; this is called darshan, the term 
used for visiting a temple and worshipping the idol. These 
men only have cooked food when their disciples bring it to 
them, otherwise they live on fruits and roots. The Aughars 
do not pierce their ears, but have a string of black sheep's 
wool round the neck to which is suspended a wooden whistle 
called nadh ; this is blown morning and evening and before 
meals. 2 The names of the Kanphatas end in Nath and those 
of the Aughars in Das. 

7. Hair When a novice is initiated all the hair of his head is 
clothes shaved, including the scalp-lock. If the Ganges is at hand 

the Guru throws the hair into the Ganges, giving a great 

feast to celebrate the occasion ; otherwise he keeps the hair 

in his wallet until he and his disciple reach the Ganges and 

1 Maclagan, /.c p. 115. 2 Ibidem, I.e. 


then throws it into the river and gives the feast. After this 
the Jogi lets all his hair grow until he comes to some great 
shrine, when he shaves it off clean and gives it as an offering 
to the god. The Jogis wear clothes coloured with red ochre 
like the Jangams, Sanniasis and all the Sivite orders. The 
reddish colour perhaps symbolises blood and may denote that 
the wearers still sacrifice flesh and consume it. The Vaish- 
navite orders usually wear white clothes, and hence the Jogis 
call themselves Lai Padris (red priests), and they call the 
Vaishnava mendicants Sita Padris, apparently because Sita 
is the consort of Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu. When 
a Jogi is initiated the Guru gives him a single bead of 
rudraksha wood which he wears on a string round his neck. 
He is not branded, but afterwards, if he visits the temple of 
Dwarka in Gujarat, he is branded with the mark of the 
conch-shell on the arm ; or if he goes on pilgrimage to the 
shrine of Badri-Narayan in the Himalayas he is branded on 
the chest. Copper bangles are brought from Badri-Narayan 
and iron ones from the shrine of Kedarnath. A necklace 
of small white stones, like juari-seeds, is obtained from the 
temple of Hinglaj in the territories of the Jam of Lasbela 
in Beluchistan. During his twelve years' period as a 
Brahmachari or acolyte, a Jogi will make either one or 
three parikramas of the Nerbudda ; that is, he walks from 
the mouth at Broach to the source at Amarkantak on 
one side of the river and back again on the other 
side, the journey usually occupying about three years. 
During each journey he lets his hair grow and at the end 
of it makes an offering of all except the choti or scalp-lock 
to the river. Even as a full Jogi he still retains the scalp- 
lock, and this is not finally shaved off until he turns into a 
Sanniasi or forest recluse. Other Jogis, however, do not 
merely keep the scalp-lock but let their hair grow, plaiting 
it with ropes of black wool over their heads into what is 
called the jata, that is an imitation of Siva's matted locks. 1 

The Jogis are buried sitting cross-legged with the face 8. Burial, 
to the north in a tomb which has a recess like those of 
Muhammadans. A gourd full of milk and some bread in a 
wallet, a crutch and one or two earthen vessels are placed in 

1 Maclasjan, I.e. 


the grave for the sustenance of the soul. Salt is put on the 
body and a ball of wheat-flour is laid on the breast of the 
corpse and then deposited on the top of the grave. 

9 . The Jogis worship Siva, and their principal festival is 
Festivals. ^e Shivratri, when they stay awake all night and sing songs 

in honour of Gorakhnath, the founder of their order. On 
the Nag-Panchmi day they venerate the cobra and they take 
about snakes and exhibit them. 

10. Caste A large proportion of the Jogis have now developed 
j Ub ". into a caste, and these marry and have families. They are 

divisions. J J 

divided into subcastes according to the different professions 
they have adopted. Thus the Barwa or Garpagari Jogis 
ward off hailstorms from the standing crops ; the Manihari 
are pedlars and travel about to bazars selling various small 
articles ; the Rltha Bikanath prepare and sell soap-nut for 
washing clothes ; the Patbina make hempen thread and 
gunny - bags for carrying grain on bullocks ; and the 
Ladaimar hunt jackals and sell and eat their flesh. These 
Jogis rank as a low Hindu caste of the menial group. No 
good Hindu caste will take food or water from them, while 
they will accept cooked food from members of any caste of 
respectable position, as Kurmis, Kunbis or Malis. A person 
belonging to any such caste can also be admitted into the 
Jogi community. Their social customs resemble those of 
the cultivating castes of the locality. They permit widow- 
marriage and divorce and employ Brahmans for their cere- 
monies, with the exception of the Kanphatas, who have 
priests of their own order. 

11. Beg- Begging is the traditional occupation of the Jogis, but 
glng ' they have now adopted many others. The Kanphatas beg 

and sell a woollen string amulet (ganda), which is put round 
the necks of children to protect them from the evil eye. 
They beg only from Hindus and use the cry ' Alakh,' ' The 
invisible one.' l The Nandia Jogis lead about with them a 
deformed ox, an animal with five legs or some other mal- 
formation. He is decorated with ochre-coloured rags and 
cowrie shells. They call him Nandi or the bull on which 
Mahadeo rides, and receive gifts of grain from pious Hindus, 
half of which they put into their wallet and give the other 

1 Crooke's Tribes and Castes, ait. Kanphata. 


half to the animal. They usually carry on a more profitable 
business than other classes of beggars. The ox is trained 
to give a blessing to the benevolent by shaking its head and 
raising its leg when its master receives a gift. 1 Some of 
the Jogis of this class carry about with them a brush of 
peacock's feathers which they wave over the heads of children 
afflicted with the evil eye or of sick persons, muttering texts. 
This performance is known as jharna (sweeping), and is the 
commonest method of casting out evil spirits. 

Many Jogis have also adopted secular occupations, as 12. other 
has already been seen. Of these the principal are the °jo C n u s pa ' 
Manihari Jogis or pedlars, who retail small hand-mirrors, 
spangles, dyeing-powders, coral beads and imitation jewellery, 
pens, pencils, and other small articles of stationery. They 
also bring pearls and coral from Bombay and sell them in 
the villages. The Garpagaris, who protect the crops from 
hailstorms, have now become a distinct caste and are the 
subject of a separate article. Others make a living by 
juggling and conjuring, and in Saugor some Jogis perform 
the three-card trick in the village markets, employing a con- 
federate who advises customers to pick out the wrong card. 
They also play the English game of Sandown, which is 
known as ' Animur,' from the practice of calling out ' Any 
more ' as a warning to backers to place their money on the 
board before beginning to turn the fish. 

These people also deal in ornaments of base metal and 13. Swind- 
practise other swindles. One of their tricks is to drop a p"f ctices 
ring or ornament of counterfeit gold on the road. Then 
they watch until a stranger picks it up and one of them 
goes up to him and says, " I saw you pick up that gold ring, 
it belongs to so-and-so, but if you will make it worth my 
while I will say nothing about it." The finder is thus often 
deluded into giving him some hush-money and the Jogis 
decamp with this, having incurred no risk in connection with 
the spurious metal. They also pretend to be able to con- 
vert silver and other metals into gold. They ingratiate 
themselves with the women, sometimes of a number of 
households in one village or town, giving at first small quan- 
tities of gold in exchange for silver, and binding them to 

1 Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art. Jogi. 


secrecy. Then each is told to give them all the ornaments 
which she desires to be converted on the same night, and 
having collected as much as possible from their dupes the 
Jogis make off before morning. A very favourite device 
some years back was to personate some missing member of 
a family who had gone on a pilgrimage. Up to within a 
comparatively recent period a large proportion of the pilgrims 
who set out annually from all over India to visit the famous 
shrines at Benares, Jagannath and other places perished by 
the way from privation or disease, or were robbed and mur- 
dered, and never heard of again by their families. Many 
households in every town and village were thus in the 
position of having an absent member of whose fate they 
were uncertain. Taking advantage of this, and having 
obtained all the information he could pick up among the 
neighbours, the Jogi would suddenly appear in the character 
of the returned wanderer, and was often successful in keeping 
up the imposture for years. 1 
14. Pro- The Jogi is a familiar figure in the life of the people 

jogis a ° Ut an d there are various sayings about him: 2 Jogi Jogi lar en, 
khopron ka dam, or ' When Jogis fight skulls are smashed,' 
that is, the skulls which some of them use as begging-cups, 
not their own skulls, and with the implication that they have 
nothing else to break ; Jogi jitgat jani nahhi, kapre range, to 
kya hua, ' If the Jogi does not know his magic, what is the 
use of his dyeing his clothes ? ' Jogi ka larka kfielega, to 
sdnp se, or, ' If a snake-charmer's son plays, he plays with a 

1 Sleeman, Report on the Badkaks, Temple and Fallon's Hindustani Pro- 
PP- 332, 333- verbs. 

2 These proverbs are taken from 



I. The village priest and astro- 9. The days of the week. 

loger. 10. The lunar year. 

1 . The apparent path of the sun. 1 1 . Intercalary months. 

The ecliptic or zodiac. 12. Superstitions about numbers. 

3. Inclination of the ecliptic to 13. The Hindu months. 

the equator. 14. The solar nakshatras. 

4. The orbits of the moon and 15. Lunar fortnights and days. 

planets. 16. Divisions of the day. 

5. The signs of the zodiac. 17. The foshi's calculations. 

6. The Sankrants. 1 8. Personal names. 

7. The nakshatras or constella- 19. Terminations of names. 

tions of the moon's path. 20. JVomen's names. 

8. The revolution of the moon. 21. Special names and bad names. 

Joshi, Jyotishi, Bhadri, Parsai. — The caste of village i. The 
priests and astrologers. They numbered about 6000 Vll . la s e 

* ° J priest and 

persons in 191 1, being distributed over all Districts. The astrologer. 
Joshis are nearly all Brahmans, but have now developed 
into a separate caste and marry among themselves. Their 
social customs resemble those of Brahmans, and need not 
be described in detail. The Joshi officiates at weddings in 
the village, selects auspicious names for children according 
to the nakshatra or constellation of the moon under which 
they were born, and points out the auspicious time or 
mahurat for all such ceremonies and for the commencement 
of agricultural operations. He is also sometimes in charge of 
the village temples. He is supported by the contributions 
from the villagers, and often has a plot of land rent-free 
from the proprietor. The social position of the Joshis 
is not very good, and, though Brahmans, they arc con- 
sidered to rank somewhat below the cultivating castes, 


;> 5 6 JO SHI PART 

the Kurmis and Kunbis, by whose patronage they are 
supported. 1 

The Bhadris are a class of Joshis who wander about 
and live by begging, telling fortunes and giving omens. 
They avert the evil influences of the planet Saturn and 
accept the gifts offered to this end, which are always black, 
as black blankets, charcoal, tilli or sesamum oil, the nrad 
pulse, 2 and iron. People born on Saturday or being 
otherwise connected with the planet are especially subject to 
his malign influence. The Joshi ascertains who these un- 
fortunate persons are from their horoscopes, and neutralises 
the evil influence of the planet by the acceptance of the 
gifts already mentioned, while he sometimes also receives a 
buffalo or a cow. He computes by astrological calculations 
the depth at which water will be found when a cultivator 
wishes to dig a well. He also practises palmistry, classify- 
ing the whorls of the fingers into two patterns, called the 
Shank or conch-shell and Chakra or discus of Vishnu. The 
Shank is considered to be unfortunate and the Chakra 
fortunate. The lines on the balls of the toes and on the 
forehead are similarly classified. When anything has been 
lost or stolen the Joshi can tell from the daily nakshatra 
or mansion of the moon in which the loss or theft occurred 
whether the property has gone to the north, south, east or 
west, and within what interval it is likely to be found. The 
people have not nowadays much faith in his prophetic 
powers, and they say, " If clouds come on Friday, and the 
sky is black on Saturday, then the Joshi foretells that it 
will rain on Sunday." The Joshi's calculations are all based 
on the rasliis or signs of the zodiac through which the sun 
passes during the year, and the naksliatras or those which 
mark the monthly revolutions of the moon. These are 
given in all Hindu almanacs, and most Joshis simply work 
from the almanac, being quite ignorant of astronomy. 
Since the measurement of the sun's apparent path on the 
ecliptic, and the moon's orbit mapped out by the constella- 
tions are of some interest, and govern the arrangement of 
the Hindu calendar, it has been thought desirable to give 
some account of them. And in order to make this in- 

1 Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xxi. p. 184. - Phaseolus radiatus. 


telligible it is desirable first to recapitulate some elementary 
facts of astronomy. 

The universe may be conceived for the purpose of 2. The 
understanding the sun's path among the stars as if it were a p^thof* 
huge ball, of which looking from the earth's surface we see the sun. 
part of the inside with the stars marked on it, as on the ecliptic or 
inside of a dome. This imaginary inside of a ball is called zodiac, 
the celestial sphere, and the ancients believed that it actually 
existed, and also, in order to account for the varying 
distances of the stars, supposed that there were several of 
them, one inside the other, and each with a number of stars 
fixed to it. The sun and earth may be conceived as smaller 
solid balls suspended inside this large one. Then looking 
from the surface of the earth we see the sun outlined against 
the inner surface of the imaginary celestial sphere. And as 
the earth travels round the sun in its orbit, the appearance 
to us is that the sun moves over the surface of the celestial 
sphere. The following figure will make this clear. 1 

Aj ?IUS' caprico^ 
Fig. 1. — The Orbit of the Earth and the Zodiac. 

Thus when the earth is at A in its orbit the sun will 
appear to be at M, and as the earth travels from A to B 
the sun will appear to move from M to N on the line of the 
ecliptic. It will be seen that as the earth in a year makes a 

1 Newcomb's Astronomy for Everybody, p. 33. 
VOL. Ill S 


complete circuit round the sun, the sun will appear to have 
made a complete circuit among the stars, and have come 
back to its original position. This apparent movement is 
annual, and has nothing to do with the sun's apparent 
diurnal course over the sky, which is caused by the earth's 
daily rotation on its axis. The sun's annual path among 
the stars naturally cannot be observed during the day. 
Professor Newcomb says : " But the fact of the motion will 
be made very clear if, day after day, we watch some particular 
fixed star in the west. We shall find that it sets earlier 
and earlier every day ; in other words, it is getting con- 
tinually nearer and nearer the sun. More exactly, since 
the real direction of the star is unchanged, the sun seems to 
be approaching the star. 

"If we could see the stars in the daytime all round the 
sun, the case would be yet clearer. We should see that if 
the sun and a star were together in the morning, the sun 
would, during the day, gradually work past the star in an 
easterly direction. Between the rising and setting it would 
move nearly its own diameter, relative to the star. Next 
morning we should see that it had got quite away from the 
star, being nearly two diameters distant from it. This 
motion would continue month after month. At the end of 
the year the sun would have made a complete circuit relative 
to the star, and we should see the two once more together. 
This apparent motion of the sun in one year round the 
celestial sphere was noticed by the ancients, who took much 
trouble to map it out. They imagined a line passing round 
the celestial sphere, which the sun always followed in its 
annual course, and which was called the ecliptic. They 
noticed that the planets followed nearly the same course as 
the sun among the stars. A belt extending on each side 
of the ecliptic, and broad enough to contain all the known 
planets, as well as the sun, was called the zodiac. It was 
divided into twelve signs, each marked by a constellation. 
The sun went through each sign in a month, and through 
all twelve signs in a year. Thus arose the familiar signs of 
the zodiac, which bore the same names as the constellations 
among which they are situated. This is not the case at 
present, owing to the precession of the equinoxes." It 


was by observing the paths of the sun and moon round 
the celestial sphere along the zodiac that the ancients 
came to be able to measure the solar and lunar months 
and years. 

As is well known, the celestial sphere is imagined to be 3. inclina- 
spanned by an imaginary line called the celestial equator, d °?° fth e 

,.,.., 1 ecliptic 

which is in the same plane as the earth's equator, and as it to the 
were, a vast concentric circle. The points in the celestial e( ^ uator - 
sphere opposite the north and south terrestrial poles are 
called the north and south celestial poles, and the celestial 
equator is midway between these. Owing to the special 
form of the earth the north celestial pole is visible to us 
in the northern hemisphere, and marked very nearly by the 
pole-star, its height above the horizon being equal to the 
latitude of the place where the observer stands. Owing to 
the daily rotation of the earth the whole celestial sphere 
seems to revolve daily on the axis of the north and south 
celestial poles, carrying the sun, moon and stars with it. 
To this the apparent daily course of the sun and moon is 
due. Their course seems to us oblique, as we are north of 
the equator. 

If the earth's axis were set vertically to the plane of its 
orbit round the sun, then it would follow that the plane of 
the equator would pass through the centre of the sun, 
and that the line drawn by the sun in its apparent revolution 
against the background of the celestial sphere would be in 
the same plane. That is, the sun would seem to move 
round a circle in the heavens in the same plane as the 
earth's equator, or round the celestial equator. But the 
earth's axis is inclined at 23^-° to the plane of its orbit, 
and therefore the apparent path traced by the sun in 
the celestial sphere, which is the same path as the earth 
would really follow to an observer on the surface of the sun, 
is inclined at 23^-° to the celestial equator. This is the 
ecliptic, and is really the line of the plane of the earth's orbit 
extended to cut the celestial sphere. 

All the planets move round the sun in orbits whose 4. The 
planes are slightly inclined to that of the earth, the plane of ^momi 
Mercury having the greatest inclination of 6°. The plane and 
of the moon's orbit round the earth is also inclined at 5° 9/ pa 



5; The 
signs of 
the zodiac. 

to the ecliptic. The orbits of the moon and all the planets 
must necessarily intersect the plane of the earth's orbit on 
the ecliptic at two points, and these are called the nodes 
of the moon and each planet respectively. In consequence 
of the inclination being so slight, though the course of the 
moon and planets is not actually on the ecliptic, they are 
all so close to it that they are included in the belt of the 
zodiac. Thus the moon and all the planets follow almost 
the same apparent course on the zodiac or belt round the 
ecliptic in the changes of position resulting from their own 
and the earth's orbital movements with reference to what 
are called the fixed stars. 

As the sun completes his circuit of the ecliptic or zodiac 
in the course of a year, it followed that if his course could 
be measured and divided into periods, these periods would 
form divisions of time for the year. This was what the 
ancients did, and it is probable that the measurement and 
division of time was the primary object of the science of 
astronomy, as apart from the natural curiosity to ascertain 
the movements of the sun, moon and planets, when they 
were looked upon as divine beings controlling the world. 
They divided the zodiac or the path of the sun into twelve 
parts, and gave to each part the name of the principal 
constellation situated on, or adjacent to, that section of the 
line of the ecliptic. When they had done this and observed 
the dates of the sun's entry into each sign or rashi, as it is 
called in Hindi, they had divided the year into twelve solar 
months. The following are the Hindu names and meanings 
of the sisms of the zodiac : 



The ram. 




The bull. 




The twins. 




The crab. 




The lion. 




The virgin. 




The balance. 




The scorpion. 




The archer. 

Dhanus or Chapa. 



The goat. 

Makara (said to mean a sea- 

1 1. 


The water-bearer. 

Kumbha (a water-pot). 



The fishes. 


ii THE SAN KR A NTS 261 

The signs of the zodiac were nearly the same among 
the Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians and Indians. 
They are supposed to have originated in Chaldea or 
Babylonia, and the fact that the constellations are indicated 
by nearly the same symbols renders their common origin 
probable. It seems likely that the existing Hindu zodiac 
may have been adopted from the Greeks. 

The solar year begins with the entrance of the sun into 6. The 
Mesha or Aries. 1 The day on which the sun passes into Sankn,nt? - 
a new sign is called Sankrant, and is to some extent 
observed as a holy day. But the Til Sankrant or entry of 
the sun into Makara or Capricorn, which falls about the 
15th January, is a special festival, because it marks approxi- 
mately the commencement of the sun's northern progress 
and the lengthening of the days, as Christmas roughly does 
with us. On this day every Hindu who is able bathes in 
a sacred river at the hour indicated by the Joshis of the 
sun's entrance into the sign. Presents of til or sesamum 
are given to the Joshi, owing to which the day is called Til 
Sankrant. People also sometimes give presents to each 

The Sankrants do not mark the commencement of the 7. The 
Hindu months, which are still lunar and are adjusted to the ** constel- 
solar year by intercalation. It is probable that long before lations of 
they were able to measure the sun's progress along the th> 
ecliptic the ancients had observed that of the moon, which 
it was much easier to do, as she is seen among the stars at 
night. Similarly there is little reason to doubt that the 
first division of time was the lunar month, which can be 
remarked by every one. Ancient astronomers measured 
the progress of the moon's path along the ecliptic and 
divided it into twenty-seven sections, each of which repre- 
sented roughly a day's march. Each section was dis- 

1 Owing to the precession of the the solar year. The difference is due 

equinoxes, the sidereal year is not the to slight changes in the direction of 

same as the solar year, being about the earth's axis, which change the 

20 minutes longer. That is, the sun position of the celestial equator and 

passes a particular star a second time of the equinoctial point where the sun 

in a period of 365 days 6 hours and crosses it. It is not clear how the 

9 minutes, while it passes the equatorial Hindus get over this difficulty, but 

point in 365 days 5 hours 4S minutes the point does not affect the general 

49 seconds, this latter period being account. 



tinguishcd by a group of stars either on the ecliptic or so 
near it, either in the northern or southern hemisphere, as to 
be occultated by the moon or capable of being in conjunction 
with it or the planets. These constellations are called 
nakshatras. Naturally, some of these constellations are 
the same as those subsequently chosen to mark the sun's 
path or the signs of the zodiac. In some cases a zodiacal 
constellation is divided into two nakshatras. Like the 
signs, the nakshatras were held to represent animals or 
natural objects. The following is a list of them with their 
corresponding stars, and the object which each was supposed 
to represent : 1 




zodiacal sign. 



(3 and y Arietis. 

A horse's head. 




35, 39 and 41 






A knife. 

Part of 



a, y, 8, e, 6 Tauri 

A wheeled car- 
riage or a 




A, <f> v (f> q , Orionis 
(Orion's head). 

A deer's head. 



Betelgeux or a 
Orionis (one of 
Orion's arms). 

A gem. 



Gemini or Castor 
and Pollux. 

A house. 




y, 8 and 6 Cancri. 

An arrow. 




8, e, iq, p and 0- 

A wheel. 



a , 7, e, & 1 and I 1 

A house. 


1 1. 

Purva Phal- 

8 and 9 Leonis. 

A couch. 



Uttara Phal- 

/3 and 93 Leonis. 

A bed. 




a, /?, y, 8 and e 

A hand. 



Spica (a Virginis). 

A pearl. 




Arcturus (a Bootis). 

1 — 

A coral bead. 

1 The stars corresponding to the 
nakshatras and their symbols are 
mainly taken from Mr. L. D. Barnett's 
Antiquities of India, pp. 190, 19 1, 

compared with the list in Mr. W. 
Brennand's Hindu Astronomy, pp. 
40, 42. 






Torres ponding 
zodiacal sign. 



u,/3, y and 1 Librae. 

A garland. 




(3, 8 and tt Scor- 

A sacrifice or 




a, a- and t Scor- 

An earring. 




e 9 t, >?> #> l > K > ^j /*> 

v, Scorpionis. 

A lion's tail. 



Purva As- 

S and c Sagittarii. 

A couch or an 




Uttara As- 

£ and cr Sagittarii. 

An elephant's 
tusk or the 
singara nut. 




a, /3 and y Aquilae. 

The footprint of 



a, (3, y and S 

A drum. 



A Aquarii. 

A circular jewel 
or a circle. 



Purva Bha- 

a and (3 Pegasi. 

A two-faced 


Uttara Bha- 

y Pegasi and 

A two-faced 


a Andromedae. 

image or a 



/■ Piscium. 

A tabor. 


All the zodiacal constellations are thus included in the s. The 
nakshatras except Capricorn, for which Aquila and Delphinis r( : v " lutl0n 
are substituted. These, as well as Hydra, are a considerable moon, 
distance from the ecliptic, but may perhaps be nearer the 
moon's path, which, as already seen, slightly diverges from 
it. But this point has not been ascertained by me. The 
moon completes the circuit of the heavens in its orbit round 
the earth in a little less than a lunar month or 27 days 
8 hours. As twenty-seven nakshatras were demarcated, 
it seems clear that a nakshatra was meant to represent the 
distance travelled by the moon in a day. Subsequently a 
twenty-eighth small nakshatra was formed called Abhijit, 
out of Uttarashadha and Sravana, and this may have been 
meant to represent the fractional part of the day. The 
days of the lunar month have each, as a matter of fact, a 
naksJiatra allotted to them, which is recorded in all Hindu 
almanacs, and enters largely into the Joshi's astrological 
calculations. It may have been the case that prior to the 



naming- of the days of the week, the days of the lunar month 
were distinguished by the names of their nakshatras, but 
this could only have been among the learned. For though 
there was a naksJiatra for every day of the moon's path 
round the ecliptic, the same days in successive months could 
not have the same nakshatras on account of what is called 
the synodical revolution of the moon. The light of the 
moon comes from the sun, and we see only that part of it 
which is illuminated by the sun. When the moon is 
between the earth and the sun, the light hemisphere is 
invisible to us, and there is no moon. When the moon is 
on the opposite side of the earth to the sun we see the 
whole of the illuminated hemisphere, and it is full moon. 
Thus in the time between one new moon and the next, the 
moon must proceed from its position between the earth and 
the sun to the same position again, and to do this it has 
to go somewhat more than once round the ecliptic, as is 
shown by the following figure. 1 

Fig. 2. — Revolution of the Moon round the Earth. 

9. The As during the moon's circuit of the earth, the earth 

week° ' e is a ^ so travelling on its orbit, the moon will not be 

between the earth and the sun again on completion of its 

1 Taken from Professor Newcomb's Astronomy for Everybody. 


orbit, but will have to traverse the further arc shown in the 
figure to come between the earth and the sun. When the 
moon has completed the circle of the ecliptic from the 
position ME, its position relative to the earth has become 
as NF and it has not yet come between the earth and the 
sun. Hence while the moon completes the circuit of the 
ecliptic : in 27 days 8 hours, the time from one new moon to 
another is 29 days 13 hours. Hence the nakshatras will 
not fall on the same days in successive lunar months, and 
would not be suitable as names for the days. It seems 
that, recognising this, the ancient astronomers had to find 
other names. They had the lunar fortnights of 14 or 
1 5 days from new to full and full to new moon. Hence 
apparently they hit on the plan of dividing these into half 
and regulating the influence which the sun, moon and planets 
were believed to exercise over events in the world by allotting 
one day to each of them. They knew of five planets besides 
the sun and moon, and by giving a day to each of them the 
seven-day week was formed. The term planet signifies a 
wanderer, and it thus perhaps seemed suitable that they 
should give their names to the days which would revolve 
endlessly in a cycle, as they themselves did in the heavens. 
The names of the days are : 

Etwar or Raviwar. 


(Ravi — the sun.) 



(Soma — the moon.) 



(Mangal or Bhauma — Mars.) 



(Buddha — Mercury. ) 

Brihaspatwar or Guru. 


(Brihaspat or Guru — Jupiter.) 



(Shukra — Venus. ) 

Saniwar or Sanichara. 


(Sani — Saturn.) 

The termination vara means a day. The weekdays were 
similarly named in Rome and other countries speaking Aryan 
languages, and they are readily recognised in French. In 
English three days are named after the sun, moon and 
Saturn, but four, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 
are called after Scandinavian deities, the last three being 
Woden or Odin, Thor and Freya. I do not know whether 
these were identified with the planets. It is supposed that 
the Hindus obtained the seven-day week from the Greeks." 

1 The moon's orbit is really an planets, 
ellipse like that of the earth and all the 2 Barnett, op. cit. p. 1 90. 



10. The 


ii. Inter- 

Four seven-day weeks were within a day and a fraction 
of the lunar month, which was the nearest that could be got. 
The first method of measuring the year would be by twelve 
lunar months, which would bring it back nearly to the same 
period. But as the lunar month is 29 days 13 hours, 
twelve months would be 354 days 12 hours, or nearly 
eleven days less than the tropical solar year. Hence if the 
lunar year was retained the months would move back round 
the year by about eleven days annually. This is what 
actually happens in the Muhammadan calendar where the 
twelve lunar months have been retained and the Muharram 
and other festivals come earlier every year by about eleven 

In order to reconcile the lunar and solar years the 
Hindus hit upon an ingenious device. It was ordained that 
any month in which the sun did not enter a new sign of the 
zodiac would not count and would be followed by another 
month of the same name. Thus in the month of Chait the 
sun must enter the sign Mesha or Aries. If he does not 
enter it during the lunar month there will be an intercalary 
Chait, followed by the proper month of the same name 
during which the sun will enter Mesha. 1 Such an intercalary 
month is called Adhika. An intercalary month, obtained 
by having two successive lunar months of the same name, 
occurs approximately once in three years, and by this 
means the reckoning by twelve lunar months is adjusted 
to the solar year. On the other hand, the sun very 
occasionally passes two Sankrants or enters into two fresh 
signs during the lunar month. This is rendered possible by 
the fact that the time occupied by the sun in passing through 
different signs of the zodiac varies to some extent. It is 
said that the zodiac was divided into twelve equal signs of 
30° each or i° for each day, as at this period it was 
considered that the year was 360 days. 2 Possibly in 
adjusting the signs to 365 odd days some alterations may 
have been made in their length, or errors discovered. At 
any rate, whatever may be the reason, the length of the 
sun's periods in the signs, or of the solar months, varies from 

1 The Indian Calendar, by Messrs. 
Sewell and Dikshit, pp. n and 25. 

Brennand's Hindu Astronomy, p. 


31 clays 14 hours to 29 days 8 hours. Three of the 
months are less than the lunar month, and hence it is 
possible that two Sankrants or passages of the sun into a 
fresh sign may occasionally occur in the same lunar month. 
When this happens, following the same rule as before, the 
month to which the second Sankrant properly belongs, that 
is the one following that in which two Sankrants occur, is 
called a Kshaya or eliminated month and is omitted from 
the calendar. Intercalary months occur generally in the 
3rd, 5th, 8th, nth, 14th, 16th and 18th years of a cycle 
of nineteen years, or seven times in nineteen years. It is 
found that in each successive cycle only one or two months 
are changed, so that the same month remains intercalary for 
several cycles of nineteen years and then gives way generally 
to one of the months preceding and rarely to the following 
month. Suppressed months occur at intervals varying from 
19 to 141 years, and in a year when a suppressed month 
occurs there must always be one intercalary month and not 
infrequently there are two. 1 

This method of adjusting the solar and lunar years, 
though clumsy, is so far scientific that the solar and lunar 
years are made to agree without any artificial intercalation 
of days. It has, however, the great disadvantages of the 
frequent intercalary month, and also of the fact that the lunar 
months begin on different dates in the English solar calendar, 
varying by nearly twenty days. 

It seems not improbable that the unlucky character of 12. Super- 
the number thirteen may have arisen from its being the ^bom b 
number of the intercalary month. Though the special numbers. 
superstition against sitting down thirteen to a meal is, no 
doubt, associated particularly with the Last Supper, the 
number is generally unlucky as a date and in other connec- 
tions. And this is not only the case in Europe, but the Hindus, 
Persians and Parsis also consider thirteen an unlucky number ; 
and the Muhammadans account for a similar superstition by 
saying that Muhammad was ill for the first thirteen days of 
the month Safar. Twelve, as being the number of the 
months in the lunar and solar years, is an auspicious number ; 
thirteen would be one extra, and as being the intercalary 

1 The Indian Calendar, Sewell and Dikshit, p. 28 and Table I. 



month would be here this year and missing next year. 
Hence it might be supposed that one of thirteen persons met 
together would be gone at their next meeting like the 
month. Similarly, the auspicious character of the number 
seven may be due to its being the total of the sun, moon 
and five planets, and of the days of the week named after 
them. And the number three may have been invested with 
mystic significance as representing the sun, moon and earth. 
In the Hindu Trinity Vishnu and Siva are the sun and 
moon, and Brahma, who created the earth, and has since 
remained quiescent, may have been the personified repre- 
sentative of the earth itself. 
13. The The names of the Hindu months were selected from 

Hin< ^! 1 among those of the nakshatras. every second or third being 

months. t> » J & 

taken and the most important constellations apparently 
chosen. The following statement shows the current names 
for the months, the nakshatras from which they are derived, 
and the constellations they represent : 


















JPiirva Ashadha. ^ 
(Uttara Ashadha./ 








/Piirva (E) Bhadrapada. 1 
\Uttara (N) Bhadrapada./ 



Kunwar or A 







Pleiades (Part of 


Aghan or 









1 1. 






\ Purva (E) Phalguni. ) 
\Uttara (N) Phalguni./ 


Thus if the Pleiades are reckoned as part of Taurus, 1 
eight zodiacal signs give their names to months as well as 
Orion, Pegasus and Aquila, while two months are included 
in Leo. It appears that in former times the year began with 
Pus or December, as the month Margashlr was also called 
Aghan or Agrahana, or ' That which went before,' that is 

1 This seems to have been done by some ancient Indian astronomers. 



the month before the new year. But the renewal of vegeta- 
tion in the spring has exercised a very powerful effect on the 
primitive mind, being marked by the Holi festival in India, 
corresponding to the Carnival in Europe. The vernal 
equinox was thus perhaps selected as the most important 

Fig. 3. — The Hindu Ecliptic showing the relative position of Zodiacal Signs 
and Nakshatras, 

occasion and the best date for beginning the new year, which 
now commences in northern India with the new moon of 
Chait, immediately following the Holi festival, when the sun 
is in the sign of Mesha or Aries. At first the months 
appear to have travelled round the year, but subsequently 
they were fixed by ordaining that the month of Chait should 
begin with the new moon during the course of which the 
sun entered the sign Aries. 1 The constellation Chitra, from 

1 The Indian Calendar, p. 29. 


which the sign is named, is nearly opposite to this in the 
zodiac, as shown by the above figure. 1 

Consequently, the full moon, being nearly opposite the 
sun on the ecliptic, would be in the sign Chitra or near it. 
In southern India the months begin with the full moon, but 
in northern India with the new moon ; it seems possible that 
the months were called after the nakshatra, of the full moon 
to distinguish them from the solar months which would be 
called after the sign of the zodiac in which the sun was. 
But no authoritative explanation seems to be available. 
Similarly, the naksJiatras after which the other months are 
named, fall nearly opposite to them at the new moon, while 
the full moon would be in or near them. 

14. The The periods during which the sun passes through each 
solar nak- na ks1iatra are also recorded, and they are of course constant 


in date like the solar months. As there are twenty-seven 
nakshatras, the average time spent by the sun in each is about 
13^ days. These periods are well known to the people as 
they have the advantage of not varying in date like the 
lunar months, while over most of India the solar months are 
not used. The commencement of the various agricultural 
operations is dated by the solar nakshatras, and there are 
several proverbs about them in connection with the crops. 
The following are some examples : " If it does not rain in 
Pushya and Punarvasu Nakshatras the children of Nimar 
will go without food." ' Rain in Magha Nakshatra (end of 
August) is like food given by a mother,' because it is so 
beneficial. "If there is no wind in Mrigasiras (beginning of 
June), and no heat in Rohini (end of May), sell your plough- 
cattle and go and look for work." ' If it rains during Uttara 
(end of September) dogs will turn up their noses at grain,' 
because the harvest will be so abundant. " If it rains during 
Aslesha (first half of August) the wheat-stalks will be as 
stout as drum-sticks " (because the land will be well ploughed). 
' If rain falls in Chitra or Swati Nakshatras (October) there 
won't be enough cotton for lamp-wicks.' 

15. Lunar The lunar month was divided into two fortnights called 
and^a^ paksha or wing. The period of the waxing moon was 

known as sukla or sudi paksha, that is the light fortnight, 

1 Taken from Brennand's Hindu Astronomy, p. 39. 


and that of the waning moon as krishna or budi paks/ta, that 
is the dark fortnight. 

Each lunar month was also divided into thirty equal 
periods, called tithis or lunar days. Since there are less 
than thirty days in the lunar month, a tithi does not corre- 
spond to an ordinary day, but begins and ends at odd hours 
of the day. Nevertheless the tithis are printed in all 
almanacs, and are used for the calculation of auspicious 
moments. 1 

The day is divided for ordinary purposes of measuring 16. 
time into eight pahars or watches, four of the day and four D ' vlMons 

, . , , . . 7 ' of the day. 

of the night; and into sixty gharis or periods of twenty-four 
minutes each. The pahars, however, are not of equal length. 
At the equinox the first and fourth paJiar of the' day and 
night each contain eight gharis, and the two middle ones 
seven gharis. In summer the first and fourth pahars of the 
day contain nine gharis each, and the two middle ones eight 
each, while the first and fourth pahars of the night contain 
seven and the two middle ones six each. Thus in summer 
the four day pahars contain 13 hours 36 minutes and the 
night ones 10 hours 24 minutes. And in winter the exact 
opposite is the case, the night pahars being lengthened and 
the day ones shortened in precisely the same manner. No 
more unsatisfactory measure of time could well be devised. 
The termination of the second watch or do pahar always 
corresponds with midday and midnight respectively. 

The apparatus with which the hours were measured and 
announced consisted of a shallow metal pan, named from its 
office, gharial, and suspended so as to be easily struck with 
a wooden mallet by the gharid/i. He measured the passing 
of a ghari by an empty thin brass cup or katori, perforated 
at the bottom, and placed on the surface of a large vessel 
filled with water, where nothing could disturb it ; the water 
came through the small hole in the bottom of the cup and 
filled it, causing it to sink in the period of one ghari. At 
the expiration of each ghari the gharial struck its number 
from one to nine with a mallet on a brass plate, and at the 
end of each pahar he struck a gujar or eight strokes to 
announce the fact, followed by one to four hollow-sounding 

1 Barnett, Antiquities of India, p. 193. 



strokes to indicate the number of the pahar. This custom is 
still preserved in the method by which the police-guards of 
the public offices announce the hours on a" gong and subse- 
quently strike four, eight and twelve strokes to proclaim 
these hours of the day and night by our clock. Only 
rich men could afford to maintain a gharial, as four persons 
were required to attend to it during the day and four at 
night. 1 
17. The The Joshi calculates auspicious 2 seasons by a considera- 

joshi'scai- t j on Q f t h e sun ' s zo diacal sign, the moon's nakshatra or 
daily mansion, and other rules. From the monthly zodiacal 
signs and daily nakshatras in which children are born, as 
recorded in their horoscopes, he calculates whether their 
marriage will be auspicious. Thus the zodiacal signs are 
supposed to be divided among the four castes, Pisces, Cancer 
and Scorpio belonging to the Brahman ; Aries, Leo and 
Sagittarius to the Kshatriya ; Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn 
to the Vaishya ; and Gemini, Libra and Aquarius to the 
Sudra. If the boy and girl were born under any of the 
three signs of the same caste it is a happy conjunction. If the 
boy's sign was of a caste superior to the girl's, it is suitable, 
but if the girl's sign is of a superior caste to the boy's it is an 
omen that she will rule the household ; and though the mar- 
riage may take place, certain ceremonies should be performed 
to obviate this effect. There is also a division of the zodiacal 
signs according to their nature. Thus Virgo, Libra, Gemini, 
Aquarius and half of Sagittarius are considered to be of the 
nature of man, or formed by him ; Aries, Taurus, half of 
Sagittarius and half of Capricorn are of the nature of 
animals ; Cancer, Pisces and half of Capricorn are of a 
watery nature ; Leo is of the desert or wild nature ; and 
Scorpio is of the nature of insects. If the boy and girl were 
both born under signs of the same nature their marriage will 
be auspicious, but if they were born under signs of different 

1 The above particulars regarding the gharis may have varied in different 

the measurement of time by the gharial localities. 

are taken from ' An Account of the ' 2 The information contained in this 

Hindustani Horometry ' in Asiatic paragraph is taken from Captain 

Researches, vol. v. p. 81, by John Mackintosh's Report on the Rdmosis, 

Gilchrist, Esq. The account appears chap. iii. (India Office Library Tracts), 

to be to some extent controversial, and in which a large variety of rules are 

it is possible that the arrangement of given. 


natures, they will share only half the blessings and comforts 
of the marriage state, and may be visited by strife, enmity, 
misery or distress. As Leo and Scorpio are looked upon 
as being enemies, evil consequences are much dreaded from 
the marriage of a couple born under these signs. There are 
also numerous rules regarding the naks/iatras or mansions 
of the moon and days of the week under which the boy and 
girl were born, but these need not be reproduced. If on the 
day of the wedding the sun or any of the planets passes 
from one zodiacal sign to another, the wedding must be 
delayed for a certain number of gharis or periods of twenty- 
four minutes, the number varying for each planet. The 
hours of the day are severally appointed to the seven planets 
and the twelve zodiacal signs, and the period of ascendancy 
of a sign is known as lagan ; this name is also given to the 
paper specifying the day and hour which have been calculated 
as auspicious for the wedding. It is stated that no weddings 
should be celebrated during the period of occultation of the 
planets Jupiter and Venus, nor on the day before new moon, 
nor the Sankrant or day on which the sun passes from one 
zodiacal sign to another, nor in the Singhast year, when the 
planet Jupiter is in the constellation Leo. This takes place 
once in twelve years. Marriages are usually prohibited 
during the four months of the rainy season, and sometimes 
also in Pus, Jeth or other months. 

The Joshi names children according to the moon's daily 18. Per- 
nakshatra under which they were born, each nakshatra sonal 

J m names. 

having a letter or certain syllables allotted to it with which 
the name must begin. Thus Magha has the syllables Ma, Mi, 
Mu and Me, with which the name should begin, as Mansaram, 
Mithu Lai, Mukund Singh, Meghnath ; Purwa Phalguni has 
Mo and Te, as Moji Lai and Tegi Lai ; Punarvasu has Ke, 
Ko, Ha and Hi, as Kesho Rao, Koshal Prasad, Hardyal and 
Hlra Lai, and so on. The primitive idea connecting a name 
with the thing or person to which it belongs is that the name 
is actually a concrete part of the person or object, containing 
part of his life, just as the hair, nails and all the body are 
believed to contain part of the life, which is not at first 
localised in any part of the body nor conceived of as separate 
from it. The primitive mind could conceive no abstract 
VOL. Ill T 


idea, that is nothing that could not be seen or heard, and it 
could not think of a name as an abstract appellation. The 
name was thought of as part of that to which it was applied. 
Thus, if one knew a man's name, it was thought that one 
could use it to injure him, just as if one had a piece of his 
hair or nails he could be injured through them because they 
all contained part of his life ; and if a part of the life was 
injured or destroyed the remainder would also suffer injury, 
just as the whole body might perish if a limb was cut off. 
For this reason savages often conceal their real names, so as 
to prevent an enemy from obtaining power to injure them 
through its knowledge. By a development of the same 
belief it was thought that the names of gods and saints con- 
tained part of the divine life and potency of the god or saint 
to whom they were applied. And even separated from the 
original owner the name retained that virtue which it had 
acquired in association ; hence the power assigned to the 
names of gods and superhuman beings when used in spells 
and incantations. Similarly, if the name of a god or saint 
was given to a child it was thought that some part of the 
nature and virtue of the god might be conferred on the child. 
Thus Hindu children are most commonly named after gods 
and goddesses under the influence of this idea ; and though 
the belief may now have decayed the practice continues. 
Similarly the common Muhammadan names are epithets of 
Allah or god or of the Prophet and his relations. Jewish 
children are named after the Jewish patriarchs. In European 
countries the most common male names are those of the 
Apostles, as John, Peter, James, Paul, Simon, Andrew and 
Thomas ; and the names of the Evangelists were, until 
recently, also given. The most common girl's name in 
several European countries is Mary, and a generation or two 
ago other Biblical names, as Sarah, Hannah, Ruth, Rachel, 
and so on, were very usually given to girls. In England 
the names next in favour for boys and girls are those of 
kings and queens, and the same idea perhaps originally 
underlay the application of these names. The following are 
some of the best-known Hindu names, taken from those 
of gods : — 


Names of Vishnu. 

Narayan. Probably ' The abode of mortals,' or else 

' He who dwelt on the waters (before creation) ' ; now 

applied to the sun. 
Waman. The dwarf, one of Vishnu's incarnations. 
Janardan. Said to mean protector of the people. 
Narsingh. The man-lion, one of Vishnu's incarnations. 
Hari. Yellow or gold-colour or green. Perhaps applied 

to the sun. 
Parashram. From Parasurama or Rama with the axe, 

one of the incarnations of Vishnu. 
Gadadhar. Wielder of the club or gada. 
Jagannath. Lord of the world. 

Dlnkar. The sun, or he who makes the days {din karnd). 
Bhagwan. The fortunate or illustrious. 
Anant. The infinite or eternal. 
Madhosudan. Destroyer of the demon Madho (Madho 

means honey or wine). 
Pandurang. Yellow-coloured. 

Names of Rama, or Vishnu's Great Incarnation as King 
Rama of Ayodhia. 

Ramchandra, the moon of Rama, and Rambaksh, the 
gift of Rama, are the commonest Hindu male names. 
Atmaram. Soul of Rama. 
Sitaram. Rama and Sita his wife. 
Ramcharan. The footprint of Rama. 
Sakharam. The friend of Rama. 
Sewaram. Servant of Rama. 

Names of Krishna. 

Krishna and its diminutive Kishen are very common 

Kanhaiya. A synonym for Krishna. 
Damodar. Because his mother tied him with a rope 

to a large tree to keep him quiet and he pulled up the 

tree, roots and all. 
Balkishen. The boy Krishna. 

276 JOSHI part 

Ghansiam. The dark-coloured or black one (like dark 
clouds) ; probably referring to the belief that Krishna 
belonged to the non-Aryan races. 

Madan Mohan. The enchanter of love. 

Manohar. The heart-stealer. 

Yeshwant. The glorious. 

Kesho. Having long, fine hair. A name of Krishna. 
Also the destroyer of the demon Keshi, who was 
covered with hair. It would appear that the epithet 
was first applied to Krishna himself and afterwards to 
a demon whom he war supposed to have destroyed. 

Balwant. Strong. An epithet of Krishna, used in 
conjunction with other names. 

Madhava. Honey -sweet or belonging to the spring, 

Girdhari. He who held up the mountain. Krishna 
held up the mountain Govardhan, balancing the peak 
on his finger to protect the people from the destruc- 
tive rains sent by India. 

Shiamsundar. The dark and beautiful one. 

Nandkishore, Nandkumar. Child of Nand the cowherd, 
Krishna's foster-father. 

Names of Siva. 

Sadasheo. Siva the everlastinsf. 

Mahadeo. The great god. 

Trimbak. The three-eyed one (?). 

Gangadhar. The holder of the Ganges, because it flows 
from Siva's hair. 

Kashinath. The lord of Benares. 

Kedarnath. The lord of cedars (referring to the pine- 
forests of the Himalayas). 

Nllkanth. The blue-jay sacred to Siva. Name of Siva 
because his throat is bluish-black either from swallow- 
ing poison at the time of the churning of the ocean or 
from drinking large quantities of bhang. 

Shankar. He who gives happiness. 

Vishwanath. Lord of the universe. 

Sheo Prasad. Gift of Siva. 


Names of Ganpati or Ganesk. 

Ganpati is itself a very common name. 

Vidhyadhar. The lord of learning. 

Vinayak. The remover of difficulties. 

Ganesh Prasad. Gift of Ganesh. A child born on the 
fourth day of any month will often be given this 
name, as Ganesh was born on the 4th Bhadon (August). 

Names of Hanuman. 

Hanuman itself is a very common name. 
Maroti, son of Marut the god of the wind. 
Mahavlra or Mahablr. The strong one. 

Other common sacred names are : Amrit, the divine 
nectar, and Moreshwar, lord of the peacock, perhaps an 
epithet of the god Kartikeya. Men are also often named 
after jewels, as : Hlra Lai, diamond ; Panna Lai, emerald ; 
Ratan Lai, a jewel ; Kundan Lai, fine gold. A child born 
on the day of full moon may be called Puran Chand, which 
means full moon. There are of course many other male 
names, but those here given are the commonest. Children 
are also frequently named after the day or month in which 
they were born. 

Common terminations of male names are : Charan, foot- 19. Ter- 
print ; Das, slave ; Prasad, food offered to a god ; Lai, JUJJJS" 
dear ; Datta, gift, commonly used by Maithil Brfihmans ; 
Din or Baksh, which also means gift; Nath, lord of; and 
Dulare, dear to. These are combined with the names of 
gods, as : Kalicharan, footprint of Kali ; Ram Prasad or 
Kishen Prasad, an offering to Rama or Krishna ; Bishen 
Lai, dear to Vishnu ; Ganesh Datta, a gift from Ganesh ; 
Ganga Din, a gift from the Ganges ; Sheo Dulare, dear to 
Siva ; Vishwanath, lord of the universe. Boys are some- 
times given the names of goddesses with such terminations, 
as Lachmi or Janki Prasad, an offering to these goddesses. 
A child born on the 8th of light Chait (April) will be 
called Durga Prasad, as this day is sacred to the goddess 
Durga or Devi. 

Women are also frequently named after goddesses, as : 


20. Parvati, the consort of Siva ; Slta, the wife of Rama ; 
name S enS Janki, apparently another name for Slta; Lakshmi, the 

consort of Vishnu, and the goddess of wealth ; Saraswati, 
the goddess of wisdom ; Radha, the beloved of Krishna ; 
Dasoda, the foster - mother of Krishna ; Dewaki, who is 
supposed to have been the real mother of Krishna ; Durga, 
another name for Siva's consort ; Devi, the same as Durga 
and the earth-goddess ; Rukhmini, the bright or shining 
one, a consort of Vishnu ; and Tulsi, the basil-plant, sacred 
to Vishnu. 

Women are also named after the sacred rivers, as : 
Ganga, Jamni or Yamuni (Jumna) ; Gomti, the river on which 
Lucknow stands ; Godha or Gautam, after the Godavari 
river ; and Bhagirathi, another name for the Ganges. The 
river Nerbudda is commonly found as a man's name, 
especially in places situated on its banks. Other names of 
women are : Sona, gold ; Puna, born at the full moon ; 
Manohra, enchanting ; Kamala, the lotus ; Indumati, a 
moonlight night ; Sumati, well - minded ; Sushila, well- 
intentioned ; Srimati, wealthy ; Amrita, nectar ; Phulwa, a 
flower ; Imlia, the tamarind ; Malta, jasmine ; and so on. 

If a girl is born after four sons she will be called Pancho 
or fifth, and one born in the unlucky Mul Nakshatra is 
called Mulia. When a girl is married and goes to her 
husband's house her name is always changed there. If 
two girls have been married into the household, they may 
be called Bari Bohu and Choti Bohu, or the elder and 
younger daughters-in-law ; or a girl may be called after the 
place from which she comes, as Jabalpurwali, Raipurwali, 
and so on. 

21. Special The higher castes have two names, one given by the 
Joshi, which is called rashi-ka-nam or the ceremonial name, 
rasJii meaning the Nakshatra or moon's daily mansion under 
which the child was born. This is kept secret and only 
used in marriage and other ceremonies, though the practice 
is now tending to decay. The other is the chaltu or current 
name, and may either be a second ordinary name, such as 
those already given, or it may be taken from some peculiarity 
of the child. Names of the latter class are : Bhura, brown ; 
Putro, a doll, given to a pretty child ; Dukali, born in 

names and 
bad names 

ii JULAIIA 279 

famine-time ; Mahinga, dear or expensive ; Chhota, little ; 
Babu, equivalent to little prince or noble ; Papa, father ; 
Kakku, born in the cucumber season ; Lada, pet ; Pattu, a 
somersault ; Judawan, cooling, and so on. Bad names arc 
also given to avert ill-luck and remove the enmity of the 
spirits hostile to children, if the mother's previous babies 
have been lost. Instances of these are Raisa, short in 
stature ; Lula, having a maimed arm ; Ghasita, dragged 
along on a board ; Damru, bought for a farthing ; Khairati, 
alms ; Dukhi, pain ; Kubra, hunch-back ; Gudri, rag ; Kana, 
one-eyed ; Birla, thin or lean ; Bisahu, bought or purchased ; 
and Bulaki and Chedi, having a pierced nostril ; these names 
are given to a boy whose nostril has been pierced to make 
him resemble a girl and thus decrease his value. 1 Further 
instances of such names have been given in other articles. 

Julaha, Momin. — A low Muhammadan caste of weavers 
resident mainly in Saugor and Burhanpur. They numbered 
about 4000 persons in 191 1. In Nagpur District the 
Muhammadan weavers generally call themselves Momin, a 
word meaning ' orthodox.' In northern India and Bengal 
Julahas are very numerous and the bulk of them are 
probably converted Hindus. Mr. (Sir Denzil) Ibbetson 
remarks : " We find Koli-Julahas, Chamar-Julahas, Morhi- 
Julahas, Ramdasi-Julahas, and so forth ; and it is probable 
that after a few generations these men will drop the prefix 
which denotes their low origin and become Julahas pure 
and simple." 2 The Julahas claim Adam as the founder of 
their craft, inasmuch as when Satan made him realise his 
nakedness he taught the art of weaving to his sons. And 
they say that their ancestors came from Arabia. In Nimar 
the Julahas or Momins assert that they do not permit out- 
siders to be admitted as members of the caste, but the accu- 
racy of this is doubtful, while in Saugor any Muhammadan 
who wishes to do so may become a Julaha. They follow 
the Muhammadan laws of marriage and inheritance. Unions 
between relatives are favoured, but a man may not marry 

1 Some of these names and also Names of the Punjabis. 
some of the women's names have been 
taken from Colonel Temple's Proper 2 Punjab Ethnography, para. 612. 

280 J U LA HA part 

his sister, niece, aunt or foster-sister. The Julaha or Momin 
women observe no purda, and are said to be almost unique 
among Muhammadans in this respect. 

" The Musalman l weaver or Julaha," Sir G. Grierson 
writes, " is the proverbial fool of Hindu stories and proverbs. 
He swims in the moonlight across fields of flowering linseed, 
thinking the blue colour to be caused by water. He hears 
his family priest reading the Koran, and bursts into tears to 
the gratification of the reader. When pressed to tell what 
part affected him most, he says it was not that, but that the 
wagging beard of the old gentleman so much reminded him 
of a favourite goat of his which had died. When forming 
one of a company of twelve he tries to count them and 
finding himself missing wants to perform his own funeral 
obsequies. He finds the rear peg of a plough and wants 
to set up farming on the strength of it. He gets into a 
boat at night and forgets to pull up the anchor. After 
rowing till dawn he finds himself where he started, and 
concludes that the only explanation is that his native 
village could not bear to lose him and has followed 
him. If there are eight weavers and nine huqqas, they 
fight for the odd one. Once on a time a crow carried off 
to the roof of the house some bread which a weaver had 
given his child. Before giving the child any more he took 
the precaution of removing the ladder. Like the English 
fool he always gets unmerited blows. For instance, he once 
went to see a ram-fight and got butted himself, as the saying 
runs : 

Karigah chhor taniasa jay 

Nahak chot Julaha khay. 

' He left his loom to see the fun and for no reason got a 
bruising.' Another story (told by Fallon) is that being told 
by a soothsayer that it was written in his fate that his nose 
would be cut off with an axe, the weaver was incredulous and 
taking up an axe, kept flourishing it, saying — 

Yon karba ta gor katbon 
Yon karba ta hath katbon 
Aur yon karba tab net 

1 This passage is taken from Sir G. Grierson's Peasant Life in Bihar, 
p. 64. 

ii KACHERA 28 1 

1 If I do so I cut off my leg, if I do so I cut off my hand, but 

unless I do so my no / and his nose was off. Another 

proverb Julaha janathi jo katai, ' Does a weaver know how 
to cut barley,' refers to a story (in Fallon) that a weaver 
unable to pay his debt was set to cut barley by his creditor, 
who thought to repay himself in this way. But instead of 
reaping, the stupid fellow kept trying to untwist the tangled 
barley stems. Other proverbs at his expense are : ' The 
Julaha went out to cut the grass at sunset, when even the 
crows were going home.' 'The Julaha's brains are in his 
backside.' His wife bears an equally bad character, as in 
the proverb : ' A wilful Julahin will pull her own father's 
beard.' " 

Kachera, 1 Kachara (from kanch, glass). — The functional i. Origin 
caste of makers of glass bangles. The Kacheras numbered ° ast g e 
2800 persons in the Central Provinces in 191 1, of whom 
1800 were found in the Jubbulpore District. The caste say 
that in former times glass bangles were made only by Turk 
or Muhammadan Kacheras. The present name of Turkari 
is probably derived from Turk. But when Gauri Parvati 
was to be married to Mahadeo, she refused to wear the 
bangles made by a Turkari. So Mahadeo constructed a 
vedi or furnace, and from this sprang the first Hindu 
Kachera, who was employed to make bangles for Parvati. 
A later variant of the legend, having a sufficiently obvious 
deduction, is that Mahadeo did not create a man, but caught 
hold of a Kshatriya who happened to be present and ordered 
him to make the bangles. His descendants followed the 
new profession and thus came to be known as Kacheras. 
It is a possible conclusion from the story that the art of 
making glass bangles was introduced by the Muhammadans 
and, as suggested in the article on Lakhcra, it may be the 
case that Hindu women formerly wore ornaments made 
of lac. 

The exogamous sections of the Kacheras show that the 2. Exo- 
caste is of very mixed origin. Several of them are named ground 

1 This article is based on a paper Pottery and Glassware, by Mr. Jowers, 

by Mr. Pancham Lai, naib-tahsildar, and some information collected by Mr. 

Murwiira, with extracts from the Hira Lai. 
Central Provinces Monograph on 


282 KACHERA part 

after other castes, as Bharia (forest tribe), Gadaria (shepherd), 
Sunar, Naua (Nai), Thakurel (Thakur or Rajput), Kachhwaha 
and Chauhan (septs of Rajputs), and Kuria or Kori (weaver), 
and indicate that members of these castes took to the pro- 
fession of bangle-making and became Kacheras. It may be 
surmised that, in the first instance perhaps, when the objection 
to using the product of the Muhammadan workman arose, if 
the theory of the prior use of lac bangles be correct, members 
of different castes took to supplying bangles for their own 
community, and from these in the course of time the Kachera 
caste was developed. Other names of sections worth mention- 
ing are Jharraha, one who frets or worries ;. Kharraha, a 
choleric person ; Dukesha, one who carries a begging-bowl ; 
Thuthel, a maimed man, and Khajha, one suffering from 
the itch. 
3. Social The exogamous sections are known as baink. The 

marriage of persons belonging to the same section and of 
first cousins is forbidden. Girls are generally married at an 
early age, as there is a scarcity of women in the caste, and 
they are snapped up as soon as available. As a natural 
consequence a considerable bride-price is paid, and the desire 
of the Kachera to make a profit by the marriage of his 
daughter is ridiculed in the following saying, supposed to be 
his prayer : " O God, give me a daughter. In exchange 
for her I shall get a pair of bullocks and a potful of rupees, 
and I shall be rich for the rest of my life. As her dowry I 
shall give her a sickle, a hoe and a spinning-machine, and 
these will suffice for my daughter to earn her livelihood." 
The usual sum paid for a girl is Rs. 50. The marriage 
ceremony is performed by walking round the sacred pole, 
and after it the couple try their strength against each other, 
the bride trying to push a stone pestle on to a slab with her 
foot and the groom pushing it off with his. At the end of 
the wedding an omen is taken, a silver ornament known as 
dhal x which women wear in the ear being fixed on to a 
wall and milk poured over it. If the ornament is displaced 
by the stream of milk and falls down, it is considered that 
the union will be a happy one. The proceeding perhaps 
symbolises roughly the birth of a child. The marriage of 
1 Dhal means a shield, and the ornament is of this shape. 


widows is permitted, and in consequence of the scarcity of 
women the widow is usually married to her late husband's 
younger brother, if there be one, even though he may be 
only a child. Divorce is permitted. Liaisons within the 
caste are usually overlooked, but a woman going wrong with 
an outsider is expelled from the community. The Kacheras 
commonly burn the dead. They employ Brahmans for 
ceremonial purposes, but their social status is low and no 
high caste will take water from them. They eat flesh and 
fish, and some of them drink liquor, while others have given 
it up. They have a caste committee or panchayat for the 
punishment of social offences, which is headed by officials 
known as Malik and Dlwan. Their favourite deity is Devi, 
and in her honour they sow the Jawaras or pots of wheat 
corresponding to the gardens of Adonis during the nine days 
prior to the Ramnaomi and Dasahra festivals in March and 
September. Some of them carry their devotion so far as to 
grow the plants of wheat on their bodies, sitting in one 
posture for nine days and almost giving up food and drink. 
At the Diwali festival they worship the furnace in which 
glass bangles are made. 

The traditional occupation of the caste is the manufacture 4- Occupa- 
of glass bangles. They import the glass in lumps from 
northern India and melt it in their furnace, after which the 
colouring matter is applied and the ring is turned on a slab of 
stone. Nearly all Hindu married women have glass bangles, 
which are broken or removed if their husbands die. But the 
rule is not universal, and some castes do not wear them at 
all. Marvvari women have bangles of ivory, and Dhangar 
(shepherd) women of cocoanut - shell. Women of several 
castes who engage in labour have glass bangles only on the 
left wrist and metal ones on the right, as the former are too 
fragile. Low-caste women sometimes wear the flat, black 
bangles known as khagga on the upper arm. In many 
castes the glass bangles are also broken after the birth of a 
child. Bangles of many colours are made, but Hindus usually 
prefer black or indigo-blue. Among Hindus of good caste a 
girl may wear green bangles while she is unmarried ; at 
her wedding black bangles are put on her wrists, and there- 
after she may have them of black, blue, red or yellow, but 

2S4 KACHERA part n 

not green. Muhammadans usually wear black or dark-green 
bangles. A Hindu woman has the same number of bangles 
on each wrist, not less than five and more if she likes. She 
will never leave her arms entirely without bangles, as she 
thinks this would cause her to become a widow. Conse- 
quently when a new set are purchased one or two of the old 
ones are kept on each arm. Similarly among castes who 
wear lac bangles like Banjaras, five should be worn, and these 
cover the greater part of the space between the wrist and the 
elbow. The men of the caste usually stay at home and make 
the bangles, and the women trnvel about to the different 
village markets, carrying their wares on little ponies if 
they can afford them. It is necessary that the seller of 
bangles should be a woman, as she has to assist her customers 
to work them on to their wrists, and also display her goods 
to high-caste women behind the purda in their homes. 

The Kacheras' bangles are very cheap, from two to 
fourteen being obtainable for a pice (farthing), according to 
quality. Many are also broken, and the seller has to bear the 
loss of all those broken when the purchaser is putting them 
on, which may amount to 30 per cent. And though an 
improvement on the old lac bangles, the colours are very dull, 
and bracelets of better and more transparent glass imported 
from Austria now find a large sale and tend to oust the 
indigenous product. The Kachera, therefore, is, as a rule, far 
from prosperous. The incessant bending over the furnace 
tends to undermine his constitution and often ruins his eye- 
sight. There is in fact a Hindi saying to the effect that, 
" When the Kachera has a son the rejoicings are held in the 
Kundera's (turner's) house. For he will go blind and then 
he will find nothing else to do but turn the Kundera's lathe." 



i. Gc7ieral notice. 4. Child-birth. 

2. Subdivisions. 5. Ear-Piercing. 

3. Marriage customs. 6. Disposal of the dead. 

Kaehhi. — An important cultivating caste of the northern 1. General 
Districts, who grow vegetables and irrigated crops requiring 
intensive cultivation. The distinction between the Kachhis 
and Malis of the Hindustani Districts is that the former grow 
regular irrigated crops, while the latter confine their operations 
to vegetables and flower-gardens; whereas the Mali or Marar 
of the Maratha country is both a cultivator and a gardener. 
The Kachhis numbered about 120,000 persons in 191 1, and 
resided mainly in the Saugor, Damoh, Jubbulpore and Nar- 
singhpur Districts. The word Kaehhi may be derived from 
kachhar, the name given to the alluvial land lying on river 
banks, which they greatly affect for growing their vegetables. 
Another derivation is from kachlini, a term used for the 
process of collecting the opium from the capsules of the 
poppy. 1 The caste are probably an offshoot of the Kurmis. 
Owing to the resemblance of names they claim a connection 
with the Kachhwaha sept of Rajputs, but this is not at all 

The caste is divided into a number of subcastes, most of 2. Sub- 
which take their names from special plants which they grow. 
Thus the Hardia Kachhis grow haldi or turmeric ; the Alias 
cultivate the al or Indian madder, from which the well-known 
red dye is obtained ; the Phulias are flower-gardeners ; the 
Jirias take their name from jira or cumin ; the Murai or 
Murao Kachhis are called after the mali or radish ; the Pirias 

1 Crooke's Tribes and Castes, article Kaehhi. 


286 KACHHI part 

take their name from the piria or basket in which they carry 
earth ; the Sanias grow san or hemp ; the Mor Kachhis are 
those who prepare the maur or marriage-crown for weddings ; 
and the Lilia subcaste are called after the indigo plant (In 
or nil). In some localities they have a subcaste called 
Kachhwahi, who are considered to have a connection with the 
Rajputs and to rank higher than the others. 
3. Mar- The social customs of the Kachhis resemble those of the 

Kurmis. The descendants of the same parents do not inter- 
marry for three generations. A man may have two sisters 
to wife at the same time. In the Damoh District, on the 
arrival of the bridegroom's party, the bride is brought into 
the marriage-shed, and is there stripped to the waist while she 
holds a leaf-cup in her hand ; this is probably done so that 
the bridegroom may see that the bride is free from any bodily 
defect. Girls are usually married before they are ten years 
old, and if the parents are too poor to arrange a match for 
their daughter, the caste-fellows often raise a subscription 
when she attains this age and get her married. The bride- 
groom should always be older than the bride, and the 
difference is generally from five to ten years. The bridegroom 
wears a loin-cloth and long coat reaching to the ground, both 
of which are stained yellow with turmeric ; the bride wears 
a red cloth or one in which red is the main colour. The 
girl's father gives her a dowry of a cow or jewels, or at least 
two rupees ; while the boy's father pays all the expenses of 
the wedding with the exception of one feast. The bridegroom 
gives the bride a present of three shoulder-cloths and three 
skirts, and one of these is worn by her at the wedding ; this 
is the old northern method of dress, but married women do not 
usually adhere to it and have adopted the common sari or 
single body-cloth. The principal ceremony is the bhanwar 
or walking round the sacred post. While the bride and 
bridegroom are engaged in this the parents and elderly 
relatives shut themselves into the house and weep. During 
the first four rounds of the post the bride walks in front 
bowing her head and the bridegroom places his right hand 
on her back ; while during the last three the bridegroom 
walks in front holding the bride by her third finger. After 
this the bride is hidden somewhere in the house and the 


bridegroom has to search for her. Sometimes the bride's 
younger sister is dressed up in her clothes and the bridegroom 
catches her in mistake for his wife, whereupon the old women 
laugh and say to him, ' Do you want her also ? ' If finally he 
fails to find the bride he must give her some ornament. 

After the wedding the bridegroom's marriage-crown is 
hung to the roof in a basket. And on the sixth day of the 
following month of Bhadon (August), he again dresses himself 
in his wedding clothes, and taking his marriage-crown on 
a dish, proceeds to the nearest stream or river accompanied by 
his friends. Here he throws the crown into the water, and 
the wedding coat is washed clean of the turmeric and unsewn 
and made up into ordinary clothes. This ceremony is 
known as moscJiatt and is common to Hindu castes generally. 
Widows are permitted to marry again, and the most usual 
match is with the younger brother of the deceased husband. 
Divorce is allowed at the instance either of the husband or 
wife, and may be effected by a simple declaration before the 
caste committee. 

After a birth neither the mother nor child are given 4. Chiid- 
any thing to eat the first day ; and on the second they bring ir ' 
a young calf and give a little of its urine to the child, and to 
the mother a little sugar and the half of a cocoanut. In the 
evening of this day they buy all kinds of hot spices and herbs 
from a Bania and make a cake with them and give it to the 
mother to eat. On the second day the child begins to drink 
its mother's milk. The navel-string is cut and buried in the 
room on the first day, and over it a fire is kept burning con- 
tinuously during the period of impurity. The small piece 
which falls from the child's body is buried beneath the 
mother's bed. The period of impurity after the birth of a 
girl lasts for four days and five days for a boy. On the 
sixth day the mother is given rice to eat. Twelve days 
after a child is born the barber's wife cuts its nails for the 
first time and throws the clippings away. 

The ears of boys and girls are pierced when they are 5. Ear- 
four or five years old ; until this is done they are not con- P iercm £- 
sidered as members of the caste and may take food from 
any one. The ear is always pierced by a Sunar (goldsmith), 
who travels about the country in the pursuit of this calling. 

of the 


A brass pin is left in the ear for fifteen days, and is then 
removed and a strip of wood is substituted for it in a boy's 
ear and a peacock's feather in that of a girl to enlarge the 
hole. Girls do not have their nostrils pierced nor wear nose- 
rings, as the Kachhis are a comparatively low caste. They 
are tattooed before or after marriage with patterns of a 
scorpion, a peacock, a discus, and with dots on the chin and 
cheek-bones. During the period of her monthly impurity a 
girl is secluded in the house and does not eat flesh or fish. 
When the time is finished she goes to the river and bathes 
and dresses her hair with earth, which is a necessary ceremony 
of purification. 
6. Disposal The bodies of children under five and of persons dying 

from smallpox, snake-bite or cholera are buried, and those of 
others are cremated. In Chhindwara they do not wash or 
anoint the corpses of the dead, but sprinkle on them a little 
turmeric and water. On the day of the funeral or cremation 
the bereaved family is supplied with food by friends. The 
principal deity of the Kachhis is Bhainsasur, who is regarded 
as the keeper of the vegetable garden and is represented by 
a stone placed under a tree in any part of it. He is wor- 
shipped once a year after the Holi festival with offerings of 
vermilion, areca-nuts and cocoanuts, and libations of liquor. 
The Kachhis raise all kinds of vegetables and garden crops, 
the principal being chillies, turmeric, tobacco, garlic, onions, 
yams and other vegetables. They are diligent and laborious, 
and show much skill in irrigating and manuring their crops. 

1. Histori- Kadera, Kandera, Golandaz, Bandar, Hawaidar. 1 — 

cai notice, j^ sma n occupational caste of makers of fireworks. The 
Kaderas numbered 2200 persons in 191 1, and were most 
numerous in the Narsinghpur District. They consider them- 
selves to have come from Bundelkhand, where the caste is 
also found, but it is in greatest strength in the Gwalior State. 
In former times Kaderas were employed to manufacture 
gunpowder and missiles of iron, and serve cannon in the 
Indian armies. The term Golandaz or ' ball-thrower ' was 
also applied to native artillerymen. The Bandar or ' rocket- 
throwers ' were a separate class, who fired rockets containing 

1 Partly based on a paper by Munshi Kanhya Lai of the Gazetteer office. 


missiles, the name being derived from van, an arrow. With 
them may be classed the Deg-anda/. or ' mortar-throwers,' 
who used thick earthenware pots filled with powder and 
having fuses attached, somewhat resembling the modern bomb 
— missiles which inflicted dreadful wounds. 1 Mr. Irvine 
writes of the Mughal artillery as follows : " The fire was 
never very rapid. Orme speaks of the artillery firing once 
in a quarter of an hour. In 172 1 the usual rate of fire of 
heavy guns was once every three hours. Artillery which 
fired once in two gharis or forty-four minutes was praised 
for its rapidity of action. The guns were usually posted 
behind the clay walls of houses ; or they might take up 
a commanding position on the top of a brick-kiln ; or a 
temporary entrenchment might be formed out of the earthen 
bank and ditch which usually surround a grove of mango- 
trees." Hawaidar is a term for a maker of fireworks, while 
the name Kandera itself may perhaps be derived from kand, 
an arrow. 

In Narsinghpur the Kaderas have three subcastes, 2. Sub- 
Rajput or Dangiwara, Dhunka, and Matwala. The first 
claim to be Rajputs, but the alternative name of Dangiwara 
indicates that they are a mixed group, perhaps partly of 
Rajput descent like the Dangis of Saugor. It is by no 
means unlikely that the lower classes of Rajputs should have 
been employed in the avocations of the Kaderas. The 
term Dhunka signifies a cotton -cleaner, and some of the 
Kaderas may have taken up this calling, when they could 
no longer find employment in the native armies. Matwala 
means a drinker of country liquor, in which members of 
this group indulge. But with the exception of the Rajput 
Kaderas in Narsinghpur, other members of the caste also 
drink it. 

They celebrate their marriages by walking round the 3. Social 
sacred post. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are 
permitted. They have a caste committee, with a headman 
called Chaudhri or Mehtar, and an inferior officer known 
as Diwan. When a man has been put out of caste the 
Chaudhri first takes food with him on readmission, and for 
this is entitled to a fee of a rupee and a turban, while the 

1 Irvine, Army of the Mughals, pp. 158, 159. 
VOL. Ill U 

2 go K AD ERA part 

Diwan receives a smaller cloth. These offices are hereditary. 
The Kaderas have no purda system, and a wife may speak 
freely to her father-in-law. They bury the milk-teeth of 
children below the ghinochi, or stand for water-pots, with the 
idea probably of preventing heat and inflammation in the 
gums. A child's jhala or birth-hair is usually cut for the 
first time on the occasion of some marriage in the family, 
and is thrown into the Nerbudda or buried at a temple. 
Names are given by the Brahman on the day of birth or 
soon afterwards, and a second pet name is commonly used 
in the family. If a child sees a lamp on the chhati or sixth 
day after its birth they think that it will squint. 
4 . Reii- The caste employ Brahmans for religious ceremonies, 

gion and j-,^ their social position is low, and they rank with castes 
from whom a Brahman cannot take water. On the tenth 
day of Jeth (May) they worship Lukman Hakim, a personage 
whom they believe to have been the inventor of gunpowder. 
He is popularly identified with Solomon, and is revered 
with Muhammadan rites in the shop and not in the house. 
A Fakir is called in who sacrifices a goat, and makes an 
offering of the head, which becomes his perquisite ; sugar- 
cakes and sweet rice are also offered and given away to 
children, and the flesh of the goat is eaten by the family of 
the worshipper. Since the worship is paid only in the 
shop it would appear that Lukman Hakim is considered a 
deity foreign to the domestic religion, and is revered as 
having invented the substance which enables the caste to 
make their livelihood ; and since he is clearly a Muham- 
madan deity, and is venerated according to the ritual of 
this religion by the Kaderas, who are otherwise Hindus, a 
recognition seems to be implied that as far at least as the 
Kaderas are concerned the introduction of gunpowder into 
India is attributed to the Muhammadans. It is not stated 
whether or not the month of May was selected of set purpose 
for the worship of the inventor of gunpowder, but it is at 
any rate a most appropriate season in India. At present 
the Kadera makes his own gunpowder and manufactures 
fireworks, and in this capacity he is also known as Atashbaz. 
The ingredients for gunpowder in Narsinghpur are a pound 
of saltpetre, two ounces of sulphur, and four ounces of char- 

ii KAIL \R 291 

coal of a light wood, such as saleJi 1 or the stalks of arharr 
Water is sprinkled on the charcoal and the ingredients arc 
pounded together in a mortar, a dangerous proceeding which 
is apt to cause occasional vacancies in the family circle. 
Arsenic and potash are also used for different fireworks, and 
sesamum oil is added to prevent smoke. Fireworks form a 
very popular spectacle in India, and can be obtained of 
excellent quality even in small towns. Bharbhunjas or 
grain-parchers now also deal in them. 

Kahar, 3 Bhoi. — The caste of palanquin -bearers and 1. Origin 
watermen of northern India. No scientific distinction can f: n 5 sta " 


be made between the Kahars and Dhlmars, both names being 
applied to the same people. In northern India the term 
Kahar is generally used, and Mr. Crooke has an article on 
Kahar, but none on Dhimar. In the Central Provinces the 
latter is the more common name for the caste, and in 191 1 
23,000 Kahars were returned as against nearly 300,000 
Dhlmars. Berar had also 27,000 Kahars. The social 
customs of the caste are described in the article on 
Dhimar, but a short separate notice is given to the Kahars 
on account of their special social interest. Some Kahars 
refuse to clean household cooking-vessels and hence occupy 
a slightly higher social position than the Dhlmars generally. 
Mr. Crooke derives the name of the caste from the Sanskrit 
Skandha-kara, or ' One who carries things on his shoulder.' 
The Brahmanical genealogists represent the Kahar as de- 
scended from a Brahman father and a Chandal or sweeper 
mother, and this is typical of the position occupied by the 
caste, who, though probably derived from the primitive non- 
Aryan tribes, have received a special position on account of 
their employment as household servants, so that all classes 
may take water and cooked food at their hands. As one 
of Mr. Crooke's correspondents remarks : " This caste is so 
low that they clean the vessels of almost all castes except 
menials like the Chamar and Dhobi, and at the same time 
so high that, except Kanaujia Brahmans, all other castes eat 

1 Boswellia serrata. by Mr. Sarat Chandra Sanya.1, Sessions 

2 Sesamum indicum. T u dg c > Nagpur, and Mr. Abdul Samad, 

3 This article is compiled from papers Tahsildar, Sohagpur. 



pakki and drink water at their hands." Sir D. Ibbetson 
says of the Kahar : " He is a true village menial, receiving 
customary dues and performing customary service. His 
social standing is in one respect high ; for all will drink 
water at his hands. But he is still a servant, though the 
highest of his class." This comparatively high degree of 
social purity appears to have been conferred on the Kahars 
and Dhlmars from motives of convenience, as it would be 
intolerable to have a palanquin-bearer or indoor servant from 
whom one could not take a drink of water. 

The proper occupation of the Kahar is that of doli or 
litter-bearer. When carts could not travel owing to the 
absence of roads this was the regular mode of conveyance of 
those who could afford it and did not ride. Buchanan re- 
marks : " Few or none except some chief native officers of 
Government keep bearers in constant pay ; but men of large 
estates give farms at low rents to their bearers, who are ready 
at a call and receive food when employed." x A superior kind 
of litter used by rich women had a domed roof supported on 
eight pillars with side-boards like Venetian blinds ; and was 
carried on two poles secured to the sides beneath the roof. 
This is perhaps the progenitor of the modern Calcutta ghari 
or four-wheeler, just as the body of the hansom-cab was 
modelled on the old sedan-chair. It was called Kharkhariya 
in imitation of the rattling of the blinds when in motion. 2 
The pdlki or ordinary litter consisted of a couch slung under 
a long bamboo, which formed an arch over it. Over the 
arch was suspended a tilt made of cloth, which served to 
screen the passenger from sun and rain. A third kind was 
the Chaupala or square box open at the sides and slung on 
a bamboo ; the passenger sat doubled up inside this. If as 
was sometimes the case the Chaupala was hung considerably 
beneath the bamboo the passenger was miserably draggled by 
dust and mud. Nowadays regular litters are so little used 
that they are not to be found in villages ; but when required 
because one cannot ride or for travelling at night they are 
readily improvised by slinging a native wooden cot from 
two poles by strings of bamboo-fibre. Most of the Kahars and 
Dhlmars have forgotten how to carry a litter, and proceed very 

1 Eastern India, ii. 426. 2 Ibidem, iii. pp. 119, 120. 


slowly with frequent stops to change shoulders or substitute 
other bearers. But the Kols of Manclla still retain the art, and 
will do more than four miles an hour for several hours if eight 
men are allowed. Under native governments the privilege 
of riding in a palanquin was a mark of distinction ; and a rule 
was enforced that no native could thus enter into the area of 
the forts in Madras and Bombay without the permission of 
the Governor ; such permission being recorded in the order 
book at the gates of the fort and usually granted only to a 
few who were lame or otherwise incapacitated. When General 
Medows assumed the office of Governor of Bombay in 1788 
some Parsis waited on him and begged for the removal of 
this restriction ; to which the Governor replied, " So long as 
you do not force me to ride in this machine he may who 
likes it " ; and so the rule was abrogated. 1 A passage from 
Hobson-Jobson, however, shows that the Portuguese were 
much stricter in this respect : "In 1 59 1 a proclamation of 
the Viceroy, Matthias d'Alboquerque, ordered : ' That no 
person of what quality or condition soever, shall go in a 
palanquy without my express licence, save they be over sixty 
years of age, to be first proved before the Auditor-General of 
Police . . . and those who contravene this shall pay a penalty 
of 200 cruzados, and persons of mean estate the half, the 
palanquy s and their belongings to be forfeited, and the bois 
or moucos who carry such palanquy s shall be condemned to 
His Majesty's galleys.' " 2 The meaning of the last sentence 
appears to be that the bearers were considered as slaves, and 
were forfeited to the king's service as a punishment to their 
owner. As the unauthorised use of this conveyance was so 
severely punished it would appear that riding in a palanquin 
must have been a privilege of nobility. Similarly to ride on 
a horse was looked upon in something of the same light ; 
and when a person of inferior consequence met a superior 
or a Government officer while riding, he had to dismount 
from his horse as a mark of respect until the other had 
passed. This last custom still obtains to some extent, 
though it is rapidly disappearing. 

As a means of conveyance the litter would be held sacred 

1 Moor, Hindu Infanticide, p. 91. 
2 Yule and Burnell's Hobson-Jobson, Crooke's edition, s.v. Boy. 



3. Female 

4. Indoor 

by primitive people, and Mr. Crooke gives an instance of the 
regard paid to it : " At the Holi festival eight days before 
Diwali in the western Districts the house is plastered with 
cowdung and figures of a litter {dolt) and bearers are made 
on the walls with four or five colours, and to them offerings 
of incense, lights and flowers are given." 1 Even after pass- 
able roads were made tongas or carts drawn by trotting- 
bullocks were slow in coming into general use owing to the 
objection felt by the Hindus to harnessing the sacred ox. 

At royal courts women were employed to carry the litters 
of the king and the royal ladies into the inner precincts 
of the palace, the male bearers relinquishing their charge 
outside. " Another class of attendants at the palace 
peculiar to Lucknow were the female bearers. Their 
occupation was to carry the palanquins and various covered 
conveyances of the king and his ladies into the inner courts 
of the harem. These female bearers were also under 
military discipline. They had their officers, commissioned 
and non-commissioned. The head of them, a great mascu- 
line woman of pleasing countenance, was an especial favourite 
of the king. The badinage which was exchanged between 
them was of the freest possible character — not fit for ears 
polite, of course ; but the extraordinary point in it was that 
no one hearing it or witnessing such scenes could have 
supposed it possible that a king and a slave stood before 
him as the two chief disputants." 2 Similarly female sepoys 
were employed to guard the harem, dressed in ordinary 
uniform and regularly drilled and taught to shoot. 3 A 
battalion of female troops for guarding the zenana is still 
maintained in Hyderabad. 4 

From being a palanquin-bearer the Kahar became the 
regular indoor servant of Hindu households. Originally of 
low caste, and derived from the non-Aryan tribes, they did 
not object to eat the leavings of food of their masters, a 
relation which is naturally very convenient, if not essential, in 
poor Hindu houses. Sir H. Risley notes, however, that in 
Bengal a Kahar engaged in personal service with a Brahman, 

1 Tribes and Castes of the N. IV. P., 
art. Kahar. 

2 Private Life of an Eastern King. 

p. 207. 

3 Ibidem, pp. 200, 202. 

4 Stevens, In India, p. 313. 


Rajput, Babhan, Kayasth or Agarwal, will only cat his 
master's leavings so long as he is himself unmarried. 1 It 
seems that the marriage feast may be considered as the sacri- 
ficial meal conferring full membership of the caste, after 
which the rules against taking food from other castes must 
be strictly observed. Slaves were commonly employed as 
indoor servants, and hence the term Kahar came to be 
almost synonymous with a slave. " In the eighteenth century 
the title Kahar was at Patna the distinctive appellation of a 
Hindu slave, as Maulazadah was of a Muhammadan, and the 
tradition in 1774 was that the Kahar slavery took its rise 
when the Muhammadans first invaded northern India." ' 

As the Kahar was the common indoor servant in Hindu 
houses so apparently he came to be employed in the same 
capacity by the English. But he was of too high a caste 
to serve the food of a European, which would have involved 
touching the cooked flesh of the cow, and thus lost him 
his comparatively good status and social purity among the 
Hindus. Hence arose the anomaly of a body servant who 
would not touch his master's food, and confined himself to the 
duties of a valet ; while the name of bearer given to this servant 
indicates clearly that he is the successor of the old-time Kahar 
or palanquin -bearer. The Uriya bearers of Bengal were 
well known as excellent servants and most faithful ; but in 
time the inconvenience of their refusal to wait at table has 
led to their being replaced by low-caste Madrasis and by 
Muhammadans. The word ' boy ' as applied to Indian 
servants is no doubt of English origin, as it is also used in 
China and the West Indies ; but the South Indian term boyi 
or Hindi bhoi for a palanquin-bearer also appears to have 
been corrupted into boy and to have made this designation 
more common. The following instances of the use of the 
word ' boy ' from Hobson-Johnson 3 may be quoted in con- 
clusion : " The real Indian ladies lie on a sofa, and if they 
drop their handkerchief they just lower their voices and say 
' Boy,' in a very gentle tone " {Letters from Madras in 1826). 
' Yes, Sahib, I Christian Boy. Plenty poojah do. Sunday 
time never no work do ' (Trevelyan, The Daivk Bmigalow, 

1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. 2 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, ibidem. 

Kahar. 3 S.v. Boy. 

296 KAIKARI part 

in 1 866). The Hindu term Bhoi or bearer is now commonly 
applied to the Gonds, and is considered by them as an hono- 
rific name or title. The hypothesis thus appears to be 
confirmed that the Kahar caste of palanquin-bearers was con- 
stituted from the non-Aryan tribes, who were practically in 
the position of slaves to the Hindus, as were the Chamars and 
Mahars, the village drudges and labourers. But when the 
palanquin-bearer developed into an indoor servant, his social 
status was gradually raised from motives of convenience, 
until he grew to be considered as ceremonially pure, and able 
to give his master water and prepare food for cooking. Thus 
the Kahars or Dhlmars came to rank considerably above the 
primitive tribes from whom they took their origin, their cere- 
monial purity being equal to that of the Hindu cultivating 
castes, while the degrading status of slavery which had at 
first attached to them gradually fell into abeyance. And 
thus one can understand why the Gonds should consider 
the name of Bhoi or bearer as a designation of honour. 

Kaikari, Kaikadi (also called Bargandi by outsiders). 1 — 
A disreputable wandering tribe, whose ostensible profession 
is to make baskets. They are found in Nimar and the 
Maratha Districts, and number some 2000 persons in the 
Central Provinces. The Kaikaris here, as elsewhere, claim 
to have come from Telingana or the Deccan, but there is no 
caste of this name in the Madras Presidency. They may 
not improbably be the caste there known as Korva or 
Yerukala, whose occupations are similar. Mr. Kitts 2 has 
stated that the Kaikaris are known as Koravars in Arcot 
and as Korvas in the Carnatic. The Kaikaris speak a gipsy 
language, which according to the specimen given by Hislop 3 
contains Tamil and Telugu words. One derivation of 
Kaikari is from the Tamil kai, hand, and kude, basket, and 
if this is correct it is in favour of their identification with 
the Korvas, who always carry their tattooing and other 
implements in a basket in the hand. 4 The Kaikaris of the 

1 This article is partly compiled 2 Berar Census Report (1SS1), p. 

from papers by Mr. G. Falconer Taylor, 141. 

Forest Divisional Officer, and by o „. , . . . , T , , 

Kanhya Lai, Clerk in the Gazetteer Hislop papers. Vocabulary, 

office. * North Arcot Manual, p. 247. 


Central Provinces say that their original ancestor was one 
Kanoba Ramjan who handed a twig to his sons and told 
them to earn their livelihood by it. Since then they have 
subsisted by making baskets from the stalks of the cotton- 
plant, the leaves of the date-palm and grass. They them- 
selves derive their name from Kai, standing for Kanoba 
Ramjan and kadi, a twig, an etymology which may be 
dismissed with that given in the Berar Census Report 1 that 
they are the remnants of the Kaikeyas, who before the 
Christian era dwelt north of the Jalandhar Doab. Two 
subcastes exist in Nimar, the Marathas and the Phirasti 
or wandering Kaikaris, the former no doubt representing 
recruits from Maratha castes, not improbably from the 
Kunbis. The Maratha Kaikaris look down on the Phirastis 
as the latter take cooked food from a number of castes 
including the Telis, while the Marathas refuse to do this. 
In the Nagpur country there are several divisions which 
profess to be endogamous, as the Kamathis or those 
selling toys made of palm-leaves, the Bhamtis or those who 
steal from bazars, the Kunbis or cultivators, the Tokriwalas 
or makers and sellers of baskets and the Boriwalas or those 
who carry bricks, gravel and stone. Kunbi and Bhamti are 
the names of other castes, and Kamathi is a general term 
applied in the Maratha country to Telugu immigrants ; the 
names thus show that the Kaikaris, like other vagrant groups, 
are largely recruited from persons expelled from their 
own caste for social offences. These groups cannot really 
be endogamous as yet, but as in the case of several other 
wandering tribes they probably have a tendency to become 
so. In Berar 2 an entirely different set of 12^ subcastes 
is recorded, several of which are territorial, and two, the 
Pungis or blowers of gourds, and the Wajantris or village 
musicians, are occupational. In Nimar as in Khandesh 3 
the Kaikaris have only two exogamous clans, Jadon and 
Gaikwar, who must marry with each other. In the southern 
Districts there are a number of exogamous divisions, as 
Jadon, Mane, Kumre, Jeshti, Kade, Dane and others. Jadon 
is a well-known Rajput sept, and the Kaikaris do not explain 

1 188 1, p. 141. - Ibidem. 

3 Bombay Gazetteer (Campbell), vol. xii. p. 120. 


298 KAIKARI part 

how they came by the name, but claim to have fought as 
soldiers under several kings, during which occasions the 
name may have been adopted from some Rajput leader in 
accordance with the common practice of imitation. Mane 
and Gaikwar are family names of the Maratha caste. The 
names and varied nomenclature of the subdivisions show 
that the Kaikaris, as at present constituted, are a very 
mixed caste, though they may not improbably have been 
originally connected with the Korvas of Madras. 
2. Mar- Marriage within the same gotra or section is prohibited, 

but with one or two exceptions f here are no other restrictions 
on intermarriage between relatives. A sister's son may 
marry a brother's daughter, but not vice versa. A man may 
not marry his wife's elder sister either during his wife's 
lifetime or after her death, and he may marry her younger 
sister, but not the younger but one. Girls are generally 
married between 8 and 1 2 years of age. If a girl cannot 
get a partner nothing is done, but when the marriage of a 
boy has not been arranged, a sham rite is performed with an 
akao plant (swallow-wort) or with a silver ring, all the 
ceremonies of a regular marriage being gone through. The 
tree is subsequently carefully reared, or the ring worn on 
the ringer. Should the tree die or the ring be lost, funeral 
obsequies are performed for it as for a member of the 
family. A bride-price is paid which may vary from Rs. 20 
to Rs. 100. In the southern Districts the following custom 
is in vogue at weddings. After the ceremony the bride- 
groom pretends to be angry and goes out of the mandap or 
shed, on which the bride runs after him, and throwing a 
piece of cloth round his neck, drags him back again. Her 
father then gives him some money or ornaments to pacify 
him. After this the same performance is gone through with 
the bride. The bride is taken to her husband's house, but 
is soon brought back by her relatives. On her second 
departure the husband himself does not go to fetch her, and 
she is brought home by his father and other relations, her 
own family presenting her with new clothes on this occasion. 
Widow-marriage is permitted, and the widow is expected to 
marry the next younger brother of the deceased husband. 
She may not marry any except the next younger, and if 



another should take her he is expelled from the caste until 
the connection is severed. If she marries somebody else he 
must repay to her late husband's brother a half of the 
expenses incurred on the first marriage. In the southern 
Districts she may not marry a brother of her husband's at 
all. A widow cannot be married in her late husband's 
house, but is taken to her parents' house and married from 
there. In Nimar her family do not take anything, but in 
the south they are paid a small sum. Here also the marriage 
is performed at the second husband's house ; the woman 
carries to it a new earthen pitcher filled with water, and, 
placing it on the chauk or pattern of lines traced with flour 
in the courtyard, touches the feet of the Panch or caste 
committee, after which her skirt is tied to her husband's 
cloth. The pair are seated on a blanket and new bangles 
are placed on the woman's wrist, widows officiating at the 
ceremony. The couple then leave the village and pass the 
night outside it, returning next morning, when the woman 
manages to enter the house without being perceived by 
a married woman or unmarried girl. A bachelor marry- 
ing a widow must first go through the ceremony with a ring 
or akao plant, as already described, this being his real 
marriage ; if he omits the rite his daughters by the widow 
will not be considered as members of the caste, though his 
sons will be admitted. Polygamy is allowed, but the 
consent of the first wife must be obtained to the taking of 
a second, and she may require a written promise of good 
treatment after the second marriage. A second wife is 
usually only taken if the first is barren, and if she has 
children her parents usually interfere to dissuade the 
husband, while other parents are always averse to giving 
their daughter in marriage to a man under such circumstances. 
Divorce is permitted for the usual reasons, a deed being 
drawn up and attested by the panchayat, to whom the 
husband pays a fine of Rs. 8 or Rs. 10. 

The tutelary god of the Kaikaris is the Nag or 3 . Reii 
cobra, who is worshipped at marriages and on the day of glon- 
Nag-Panchmi. Every family has in the house a platform 
dedicated to Khandoba, the Maratha god of war. They 
also worship Marlmata, to whom flowers are offered at 

300 KAIKARI part 

festivals, and a little ghi is poured out in her honour by 
way of incense. When the juari harvest is gathered, dalias 
or cakes of boiled juari and a ewe are offered to Marlmata. 
They do not revere the Hindu sacred trees, the plpal and 
banyan, nor the basil plant, and will readily cut them down. 
They both burn and bury the dead. The Jadons burn all 
married persons, but if they cannot afford firewood they 
touch the corpse with a burning cinder and then bury it. 
The Gaikwars always bury their dead, the corpse being 
laid naked on its back with the feet pointing to the south. 
On returning from the burial-ground each relative of the 
deceased gives one roti or wheaten cake to the bereaved 
family, and they eat, sharing the cakes with the panchayat. 
Bread is also presented on the second day, and on the third 
the family begin to cook again. Mourning lasts for ten 
days, and on the last day the house is cleaned and the 
earthen pots thrown out ; the clothes of the family are 
washed and the males are shaved. Ten balls of rice cooked 
in milk are offered to the soul of the dead person and a 
feast is given to the caste. After a birth the mother 
remains impure for five weeks. For the first five days both 
the mother and child are bathed daily. The navel cord 
and after-birth are buried by the midwife in a rubbish heap. 
When the milk teeth fall out they are placed in a ball of 
the dung of an ass and thrown on to the roof of the house. 
It is considered that the rats or mice, who have very good 
and sharp teeth, will take them and give the child good 
teeth in exchange. Women are impure for five days 
during the menstrual period. When a girl attains maturity 
a ceremony called god-bhami is performed. The neighbours 
are invited and songs are sung and the girl is seated in the 
chauk or pattern of lines traced with flour. She is given 
new clothes and bangles by her father, or her father-in-law 
if she is married, and rice and plantains, cocoanuts and 
other fruits are tied up in her skirt. This is no doubt 
done so that the girl may in like manner be fruitful, the 
cocoanuts perhaps being meant to represent human heads, 
as they usually do. 

The Kaikaris eat flesh, including pork and fowls, but 
not beef. In Nimar the animals which they eat must have 


their throats cut by a Muhammadan with the proper 4- Social 
formula, otherwise it is considered as murder to slaughter ' 
them. Both men and women drink liquor. They take tion. 
food cooked with water from Kunbis and Malis and take 
water from the same castes, but not from Dhlmars, Nais 
or Kahars. No caste will take food from a Kaikari. Their 
touch is considered to defile a Brahman, Bania, Kalar and 
other castes, but not a Kunbi. They are not allowed to 
enter temples but may live inside the village. Their status 
is thus very low. They have a caste pandiayat or com- 
mittee, and punishments are imposed for the usual offences. 
Permanent exclusion from caste is rarely or never inflicted, 
and even a woman who has gone wrong with an outsider 
may be readmitted after a peculiar ceremony of purification. 
The delinquent is taken to a river, tank or well, and is there 
shaved clean. Her tongue is branded with a ring or other 
article of gold, and she is then seated under a wooden shed 
having two doors. She goes in by one door and sits in 
the shed, which is set on fire. She must remain seated 
until the whole shed is burning and is then allowed to 
escape by the other door. A young boy of the caste is 
finally asked to eat from her hand, and thus purified she is 
readmitted to social intercourse. Fire is the great purifier, 
and this ceremony probably symbolises the immolation of 
the delinquent and her new birth. A similar ordeal is 
practised among the Korvas of Bombay, and this fact may 
be taken as affording further evidence of the identity of 
the two castes. 1 The morals of the caste are, however, by 
no means good, and some of them are said to live by 
prostituting their women. The dog is held especially sacred 
as with all worshippers of Khandoba, and to swear by a 
dog is Khandoba's oath and is considered the most binding. 
The Kaikaris are of dark colour and have repulsive features. 
They do not bathe or change their clothes for days together. 
They are also quarrelsome, and in Bombay the word 
Kaikarin is a proverbial term for a dirty shrew. Women 
are profusely tattooed, because tattooing is considered to be 
a record of the virtuous acts performed in this world and 
must be displayed to the deity after death. If no marks 

1 Bombay Gazetteer (Campbell), vol. xxi. p. 172. 

3 o2 KALANGA part 

of tattooing are found the soul is sent to hell and punished 
for having acquired no piety. 
5. Occupa- Basket-making is the traditional occupation of the 

tion. Kaikaris and is still followed by them. They do not 

however make baskets from bamboos, but from cotton-stalks, 
palm-leaves and grass. In the south they are principally 
employed as carriers of stone, lime, bricks and gravel. Like 
most wandering castes they have a bad character. In 
Berar the Ran Kaikaris are said to be the most criminal 
class. 1 They act under a chief who i^ elected for life, and 
wander about in the cold weather, usually carrying their 
property on donkeys. Their ostensible occupations are 
to make baskets and mend grinding mills. A notice ol 
them in Lawrence's Settlement Report of Bhandara (1867) 
stated that they were then professional thieves, openly 
avowing their dependence on predatory occupations for 
subsistence, and being particularly dexterous at digging 
through the walls of houses and secret pilfering. 

l origin. Katanga. — A cultivating caste of Chhattlsgarh number- 

ing 1800 persons in 191 1. In Sambalpur they live prin- 
cipally in the Phuljhar zamlndari on the border, between 
Chhattlsgarh and the Uriya track. The Kalangas appear 
to be a Dravidian tribe who took up military service 
and therefore adopted a territorial name, Kalanga being 
probably derived from Kalinga, the name of the sea-board 
of the Telugu country. The Kalangas may be a branch 
of the great Kalingi tribe of Madras. They have mixed 
much with the Kawars, and in Phuljhar say that they have 
three branches, the Kalingia, Kawar and Chero Kalangas ; 
Kawar and Chero are names for the same tribe, and the 
last two branches are thus probably a mixture of Kalingis 
and Kawars, while the first comprises the original Kalingis. 
The Kalangas themselves, like the Kawars, say that they 
are the descendants of the Kauravas of the Mahabharata, 
and that they came from northern India with the Rajas 
of Patna, whom they still serve. But their features indicate 
their Dravidian descent as also their social customs, 
especially that of killing a cock with the bare hands on 

1 Berar Census Report (1881), p. 141. 


the birth of a child, and anointing the infant's forehead with 
its blood. They have not retained their Telugu language, 
however, and like the Kawars now speak a dialect of 
Chhattlsgarhi at home, while many also know Uriya. 

The Kalangas have no real endogamous divisions but 2. Sub- 
a large number of exogamous groups or bargas, the names dmsions - 
of which are derived from animals, plants, or material 
objects, nicknames, occupations or titles. Instances of the 
totemistic groups are Barha the wild boar, Magar the 
crocodile, Bichhi the scorpion, Saria a variety of rice, Chhati 
a mushroom, Khumri a leaf umbrella, and several others. 
The members of the group revere the animal, plant or other 
object from which it takes its name and would refuse to 
injure it or use it for food. They salute the object 
whenever they see it. Instances of other group names are 
Manjhi a headman, Behra a cook, Gunda dusty, Kapat a 
shutter, Bhundi a hole, Chlka muddy, Bhil a tribe, Rendia 
quarrelsome, and Bersia a Thug or strangler. Some of the 
nicknames or titles are curious, as for instance Kapat, a 
shutter, which stands for gate-keeper, and Bhundi, a hole, 
which indicates a defective person. Some of the group 
names are those of other castes, and this probably indicates 
the admission of families of other castes among the Kalangas. 
One of the groups is called Kusundi, the meaning of which is 
not known, but whenever any one of the caste gets maggots 
in a wound and is temporarily expelled, it is a member 
of the Kusundi group, if one is available, who gives him 
water on his readmission into caste. This is a dangerous 
service, because it renders the performer liable to the burden 
of the other's sin, and when no Kusundi is present five 
or seven men of other groups combine in doing it so as 
to reduce the risk to a fraction. But why this function of 
a scapegoat should be imposed upon the Kusundi group, or 
whether it possesses any peculiar sanctity which protects it 
from danger, cannot be explained. 

Marriage within the same barga or group is prohibited 3 . Mar- 
and also the union of first cousins. Marriage is usually riasc - 
adult and matches are arranged between the parents of the 
parties. A considerable quantity of grain with five pieces 
of cloth and Rs. 5 are given to the father of the bride. A 



marriage-shed is erected and a post of the mahua tree fixed 
inside it. Three days before the wedding a Ganda goes 
to the shed with some pomp and worships the village gods 
there. In the ceremony the bridegroom and bride proceed 
separately seven times round the post, this rite being 
performed for three days running. During the four days 
of the wedding the fathers of the bride and bridegroom 
each give one meal to the whole caste on two days, while 
the other meal on all four days is given to the wedding 
party by the members of the caste resident in the village. 
This may be a survival of the time when all members of 
the village community were held to be related. Widow- 
marriage is allowed, but the widow must obtain the consent 
of the caste people before taking a second husband, and a 
feast must be given to them. If the widow has no children 
and there are no relatives to succeed to her late husband's 
property, it is expended on feeding the caste people. 
Divorce is permitted and is effected by breaking the* 
woman's bangles in front of the caste panchayat. In 
memory perhaps of their former military profession the 
Kalangas worship the sword on the 15 th day of Shrawan 
and the 9th day of Kunwar. Offerings are made to the 
dead in the latter month, but not to persons who have died 
a violent death. The spirits of these must be laid lest they 
should trouble the living, and this is done in the following 
manner : a handful of rice is placed at the threshold of the 
house, and a ring is suspended by at hread so as to touch 
the rice. A goat is then brought up, and when it eats the 
rice, the spirit of the dead person is considered to have 
entered into the goat, which is thereupon killed and eaten 
by the family so as to dispose of him once for all. If the 
goat will not eat the rice it is made to do so. The spirit 
of a man who has been killed by a tiger must, however, 
be laid by the Sulia or sorcerer of the caste, who goes 
through the formula of pretending to be a tiger and of 
mauling another sorcerer. 
4. Social The Kalangas are at present cultivators and many of 

position, them are farmservants. They do not now admit outsiders 
into the caste, but they will receive the children begotten on 
any woman by a Kalanga man. They take food cooked 


without water from a Guria, but katchi food from nobody. 
Only the lowest castes will take food from them. They 
drink liquor and eat fowls and rats, but not beef or pork. A 
man who gets his ear torn is temporarily excluded from 
caste, and this penalty is also imposed for the other usual 
offences. A woman committing adultery with a man of 
another caste is permanently expelled. The Kalangas are 
somewhat tall in stature. Their features are Dravidian, and 
in their dress and ornaments they follow the Chhattlsgarhi 

VOL. Ill X 



i. Strength of the caste. 8. Drunkenness and divine in- 

i. Internal structure. spiration. 

3. Dandsena Kalars in Chhattis- 9. Sanctity of liquor among the 

garh. Gonds and other castes. 

4. Social customs. 10. Drugs also considered divine. 

5 . Liquor held divine in Vedic 1 1 . Opium and ganja. 

times. 12. Tobacco. 

6. Subsequent prohibition of 13. Customs in con7iecfio?i with 

alcohol. drinking. 

7. Spirits habitually drunk in 

ancient times. 


1. strength Kalar, Kalwar: 1 — The occupational caste of distillers and 
of the sellers of fermented liquor. In 1 9 1 1 the Kalars numbered 

nearly 200,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berar, 
or rather more than one per cent of the population ; so 
they are a somewhat important caste numerically. The 
name is derived from the Sanskrit Kalyapala, a distiller of 

2. internal The caste has a number of subdivisions, of which the 
bulk are of the territorial type, as Malvi or the immigrants 
from Malwa, Lad those coming from south Gujarat, Daharia 
belonging to Dahar or the Jubbulpore country, Jaiswar and 
Kanaujia coming from Oudh. The Rai Kalars are an 
aristocratic subcaste, the word Rai signifying the highest 
or ruling group like Raj. But the Byahut or ' Married ' are 
perhaps really the most select, and are so called because 
they forbid the remarriage of widows, their women being 
thus married once for all. In Bengal they also decline to 

1 Some information for this article TahsTldar, and Sundar Lai Richaria, 
has been supplied by Babu Lai, Excise Sub-Inspector of Police. 
Sub-Inspector, Mr. Aduram Chaudhri, 



part ii KALAR 307 

distil or sell liquor. 1 The Chauske Kalars are said to be 
so called because they prohibit the marriage of persons 
having a common ancestor up to the fourth generation. The 
name of the Seohare or Sivahare subcaste is perhaps a 
corruption of Somhare or dealers in Soma, the sacred fer- 
mented liquor of the Vedas ; or it may mean the worshippers 
of the god Siva. The Seohare Kalars say that they are 
connected with the Agarwala Banias, their common ancestors 
having been the brothers Seoru and Agru. These brothers 
on one occasion purchased a quantity of mahua 2 flowers ; 
the price afterwards falling heavily. Agru sold his stock at 
a discount and cut the loss ; but Seoru, unwilling to suffer it, 
distilled liquor from his flowers and sold the liquor, thus 
recouping himself for his expenditure. But in consequence 
of his action he was degraded from the Bania caste and his 
descendants became Kalars. The Jaisvvar, Kanaujia and 
Seohare divisions are also found in northern India, and the 
Byahut both there and in Bengal. Mr. Crooke states that 
the caste may be an offshoot from the Bania or other Vaishya 
tribes ; and a slight physical resemblance may perhaps be 
traced between Kalars and Banias. It may be noticed also 
that some of the Kalars are Jains, a religion to which scarcely 
any others except Banias adhere. Another hypothesis, how- 
ever, is that since the Kalars have become prosperous and 
wealthy they devised a story connecting them with the Bania 
caste in order to improve their social position. 

In Chhattlsgarh the principal division of the Kalars is 3. Dand- 
that of the Dandsenas or ' Stick-carriers,' and in explanation ^aiars i n 
of the name they relate the following story : " A Kalar boy Chhattis- 
was formerly the Mahaprasad or bosom friend of the son of s " 
the Rajput king of Balod. 3 But the Raja's son fell in love 
with the Kalar boy's sister and entertained evil intentions 
towards her. Then the Kalar boy went and complained to 
the Raja, who was his Phulbaba, 4 the father of his friend, 
saying, ' A dog is always coming into my house and defiling 
it, what am I to do?' The Raja replied that he must kill 
the dog. Then the boy asked whether he would be punished 

1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. made. 

Kalar. 3 The headquarters of the Sanjari 

2 Bassia latifolia, the tree from tahsll in Drug District. 

whose flowers fermented liquor is 4 Phulbaba, lit. ' flower-father.' 


308 KALAR part 

for killing him, and the Raja said, No. So the next day as 
the Rajput boy was entering his house to get at his sister, 
the Kalar boy killed him, though he was his dearest friend. 
Then the Rajputs attacked the Kalars, but they were led only 
by the queen, as the king had said that the Kalar boy might 
kill the dog. But the Rajputs were being defeated and so the 
Raja intervened, and the Kalars then ceased fighting as the 
Raja had broken his word. But they left Balod, saying that 
they would drink no more of its waters, which they have not 
done to this day." l And the Kalars are called Dandsena, 
because in this fight sticks were their only weapons. 
4. Social The marriage customs of the caste follow the ordinary 

Hindu ritual prevalent in the locality and are not of special 
interest. Before a Kalar wedding procession starts a cere- 
mony known as marrying the well is performed. The mother 
or aunt of the bridegroom goes to the well and sits in the 
mouth with her legs hanging down inside it and asks what 
the bridegroom will give her. He then goes round the well 
seven times, and a stick of kdns 2 grass is thrown into it at 
each turn. Afterwards he promises the woman some hand- 
some present and she returns to the house. Another ex- 
planation of the story is that the woman pretends to be 
overcome with grief at the bridegroom's departure and 
threatens to throw herself into the well unless he will give 
her something. The well-to-do marry their daughters at an 
early age, but no stigma attaches to those who have to post- 
pone the ceremony. A bride-price is not customary, but if 
the girl's parents are poor they sometimes receive help from 
those of the boy in order to carry out the wedding. Matches 
are usually arranged at the caste feasts, and a Brahman 
officiates at the ceremony. Divorce is recognised and 
widows are allowed to marry again except by the Byahut 
subcaste. The Kalars worship the ordinary Hindu deities, 
and those who sell liquor revere an earthen jar filled with 
wine at the Holi festival. The educated are usually Vaish- 
navas by sect, and as already stated a few of them belong to 
the Jain religion. The social status of the Kalars is equiva- 

1 This story is only transplanted, a (Rafastkan, ii. p. 441). 
similar one being related by Colonel 
Tod in the Annals of the Bundi State 2 Saccharum spontanenm. 


lent to that of the village menials, ranking below the good 
cultivating castes. Brahmans do not take water from their 
hands. But in Mandla, where the Kalars are important 
and prosperous, certain Sarwaria Brahmans who were their 
household priests took water from them, thus recognising 
them as socially pure. This has led to a split among the 
local Sarwaria Brahmans, the families who did not take 
water from the Kalars refusing to intermarry with those 
who did so. 

While the highest castes of Hindus eschew spirituous 
liquor the cultivating and middle classes are divided, some 
drinking it and others not ; and to the menial and labouring 
classes, and especially to the forest tribes, it is the principal 
luxury of their lives. Unfortunately they have not learnt 
to Indulge in moderation and nearly always drink to excess 
if they have the means, while the intoxicating effect of 
even a moderate quantity is quickly perceptible in their 

In the Central Provinces the liquor drunk is nearly all 
distilled from the flowers of the mahua tree (Bassia latzfolia), 
though elsewhere it is often made from cane sugar. The 
smell of the fermented ■ mahua and the refuse water lying 
about make the village liquor -shop an unattractive place. 
But the trade has greatly profited the Kalars by the influence 
which it has given them over the lower classes. " With the 
control of the liquor- supply in their hands," Mr. Mont- 
gomerie writes, " they also controlled the Gonds, and have 
played a more important part in the past history of the 
Chhindwara District than their numbers would indicate." ] 
The Kalar and Teli (oil-presser) are usually about on the 
same standing ; they are the creditors of the poorer tenants 
and labourers, as the Bania is of the landowners and sub- 
stantial cultivators. These two of the village trades are not 
suited to the method of payment by annual contributions of 
grain, and must from an early period have been conducted 
by single transactions of barter. Hence the Kalar and Teli 
learnt to keep accounts and to appreciate the importance 
of the margin of profit. This knowledge and the system of 
dealing on credit with the exaction of interest have stood 

1 Settlement Report, p. 26. 

3 io KALAR part 

them in good stead and they have prospered at the expense 
of their fellow- villagers. The Kalars have acquired sub- 
stantial property in several Districts, especially in those 
mainly populated by Gonds, as Mandla, Betiil and Chhind- 
wara. In British Districts of the Central Provinces they 
own 750 villages, or about 4 per cent of the total. In former 
times when salt was highly taxed and expensive the Gonds 
had no salt. The Kalars imported rock-salt and sold it to 
the Gonds in large pieces. These were hung up in the Gond 
houses just as they are in stables, and after a meal every 
one would go up to the lump of salt and lick it as ponies 
do. When the Gonds began to wear cloth instead of leaves 
and beads the Kalars retailed them thin strips of cloth just 
sufficient for decency, and for the cloth and salt a large 
proportion of the Gond's harvest went to the Kalar. When 
a Gond has threshed his grain the Kalar takes round liquor 
to the threshing-floor and receives a present of grain much 
in excess of its value. Thus the Gond has sold his birthright 
for a mess of pottage and the Kalar has taken his heritage. 
Only a small proportion of the caste are still supported by 
the liquor traffic, and a third of the whole are agriculturists. 
Others have engaged in the timber trade, purchasing teak 
timber from the Gonds in exchange for liquor, a form of 
commerce which has naturally redounded to their great 
advantage. A few are educated and have risen to good 
positions in Government service. Sir D. Ibbetson describes 
them as ' Notorious for enterprise, energy and obstinacy. 
Death may budge, but a Kalar won't.' The Sikh Kalars, 
who usually call themselves Ahluwalia, contain many men 
who have attained to high positions under Government, 
especially as soldiers, and the general testimony is that they 
make brave soldiers. 1 One of the ruling chiefs of the Punjab 
belongs to this caste. Until quite recently the manufacture 
of liquor, except in the large towns, was conducted in small 
pot-stills, of which there was one for a circle of perhaps two 
dozen villages with subordinate shops. The right of manu- 
facture and vend in each separate one of these stills was sold 
annually by auction at the District headquarters, and the 
Kalars assembled to bid for it. And here instances of their 

1 Mr. (Sir E.) Maclagan's Punjab Census Report (1891). 


dogged perseverance could often be noticed ; when a man 
would bid up for a licence to a sum far in excess of the 
profits which he could hope to acquire from it, rather than 
allow himself to be deprived of a still which he desired 
to retain. 

Though alcoholic liquor is now eschewed by the higher s . Liquor 
castes of Hindus and forbidden by their religion, this has by held dlvlne 

J t> » J ln Vedic 

no means always been the case. In Vedic times the liquor times. 
known as Soma was held in so much esteem by the Aryans 
that it was deified and worshipped as one of their principal 
gods. Dr. Hopkins summarises x the attributes of the divine 
wine, Soma, as follows, from passages in the Rig- Veda : 
" This offering of the juice of the Soma-plant in India was 
performed thrice daily. It is said in the Rig-Veda that 
Soma grows upon the mountain Mujawat, that its or his 
father is Parjanya, the rain-god, and that the waters are his 
sisters. From this mountain, or from the sky, accounts differ, 
Soma was brought by a hawk. He is himself represented in 
other places as a bird ; and as a divinity he shares in the 
praise given to Indra. It was he who helped Indra to slay 
Vritra, the demon that keeps back the rain. Indra, intoxi- 
cated by Soma, does his great deeds, and indeed all the gods 
depend on Soma for immortality. Divine, a weapon-bearing 
god, he often simply takes the place of Indra and other gods 
in Vedic eulogy. It is the god Soma himself who slays 
Vritra, Soma who overthrows cities, Soma who begets the 
gods, creates the sun, upholds the sky, prolongs life, sees all 
things, and is the one best friend of god and man, the divine 
drop (indu)> the friend of Indra. As a god he is associated 
not only with Indra but also with Agni, Rudra and Pushan. 
A few passages in the later portion of the Rig- Veda show 
that Soma already was identified with the moon before the 
end of this period. After this the lunar yellow god was 
regularly regarded as the visible and divine Soma of heaven 
represented on earth by the plant." Mr. Hopkins discards 
the view advanced by some commentators that it is the moon 
and not the beverage to which the Vedic hymns and worship 
are addressed, and there is no reason to doubt that he is 

1 Religions of India, p. 113. 

3 i2 KALAR tart 

The soma plant has been thought to be the Asclepias 
adda, 1 a plant growing in Persia and called horn in Persian. 
The early Persians believed that the horn plant gave great 
energy to body and mind. 2 An angel is believed to preside 
over the plant, and the* Horn Yast is devoted to its praises. 
Twigs of it are beaten in water in the smaller Agiari or fire- 
temple, and this water is considered sacred, and is given to 
newborn children to drink. 3 Dr. Hopkins states, however, 
that the horn or Asclepias acida was not the original so?na, 
as it does not grow in the Punjab region, but must have been 
a later substitute. Afterwards again another kind of liquor, 
sura, became the popular drink, and soma, which was now 
not so agreeable, was reserved as the priests' (gods') drink, a 
sacrosanct beverage not for the vulgar, and not esteemed by 
the priests except as it kept up the rite. 4 

Soma is said to have been prepared from the juice of 
the creeper already mentioned, which was diluted with 
waiter, mixed with barley meal, clarified butter and the flour 
of wild rice, and fermented in a jar for nine days. 5 Sura 
was simply arrack prepared from rice-flour, or rice-beer. 
6. Sub- Though in the cold regions of Central Asia the cheering 

sequent an( j warm j n cr liquor had been held divine, in the hot plains 

prohibition . 

of alcohol, of India the evil effects of alcohol were apparently soon 
realised. " Even more bold is the scorn of the gods in 
Hymn x. 119 of the Rig- Veda, which introduces Indra in 
his merriest humour, ready to give away everything, ready 
to destroy the earth and all that it contains, boasting of his 
greatness in ridiculous fashion — all this because, as the 
refrain tells us, he is in an advanced state of intoxication 
caused by excessive appreciation of the soma offered to him. 
Another Hymn (vii. 103) sings of the frogs, comparing their 
voices to the noise of a Brahmanical school and their hopping 
round the tank to the behaviour of drunken priests celebrat- 
ing a nocturnal offering of soma" G It seems clear, there- 
fore, that the evil effects of drunkenness were early realised, 

1 Apparently also called Sarcostemma 3 Ibidem. 

viminalis. * Hopkins, he. cit. p. 213. 

5 Rajendra Lai Mitra, Indo-Aryans, 

2 Bombay Gazetteer, Parsis of Gu- ii. p. 419. 

iarat, by Messrs. Nasarvanji Girvai and 6 Deussen, Outlines of Indian Philo- 

Behramji Patel, p. 228, footnote. sophy, p. 12. 


and led to a religious prohibition of alcohol. Dr. Rajendra 
Lai Mitra writes : * " But the fact remains unquestioned 
that from an early period the Hindus have denounced in 
their sacred writings the use of wine as sinful, and two of 
their greatest law-givers, Manu and Yajnavalkya, held that 
the only expiation meet for a Brahman who had polluted 
himself by drinking spirit was suicide by a draught of spirit 
or water or cow's urine or milk, in a boiling state taken in 
a burning hot metal pot. Angira, Vasishtha and Paithurasi 
restricted the drink to boiling spirits alone. Dewala went 
a step farther and prescribed a draught of molten silver, 
copper or lead as the most appropriate. . . . Manu likewise 
provides for the judicial cognisance of such offences by 
Brahmans, and ordains excommunication, and branding on 
the forehead the figure of a bottle as the most appropriate 

Nevertheless the consumption of alcohol was common in 7- Spirits 
classical times. Bharadwaja, a great sage, offered wine to d rU nkt n y 
Bharata and his soldiers when they spent a night under his ancient 
roof. 2 When Sita crossed the Ganges on her way to the 
southern wilderness she begged the river for a safe passage, 
saying, " Be merciful to me, O Goddess, and I shall on my 
return home worship thee with a thousand jars of arrack 
and dishes of well-dressed flesh meat." When crossing the 
Jumna she said, " Be auspicious, O Goddess ; I am crossing 
thee. When my husband has accomplished his vow I shall 
worship thee with a thousand head of cattle and a hundred 
jars of arrack." Similarly the companions of Krishna, the 
Yadavas, destroyed each other when they were overcome by 
drink ; and many other instances are given by Dr. Rajendra 
Lai Mitra. The Puranas abound in descriptions of wine 
and drinking, and though the object of many of them is to 
condemn the use of wine the inference is clear that there 
was a widespread malady which they proposed to overcome. 3 
Pulastya, an ancient sage and author of one of the original 
Smritis, enumerates twelve different kinds of liquor, besides 
the soma beer which is not usually reckoned under the 
head of madya or wine, and his successors have added 

1 Indo- Aryans, i. p. 393. 2 Ibidem, p. 396. 

3 Ibidem, p. 402. 



largely to the list. The twelve principal liquors of this 
sage are those of the jack fruit, the grape, honey or mead, 
date-liquor, palm-liquor or toddy, sugarcane-liquor, mahua- 
liquor, rum and those made from long-pepper, soap-berries 
and cocoanuts. 1 All these drinks were not merely fermented, 
but distilled and flavoured with different kinds of spices, 
fruits and herbs ; they were thus varieties of spirits or 
liqueurs. It is probable that without the use of glass 
bottles and corks it would be very difficult to keep fermented 
wine for any length of time in the Indian climate. But 
spirits drunk neat as they were would produce more 
markedly evil results in a hot country, and would strengthen 
and accelerate the reaction against alcoholic liquor, which 
has gone so far that probably a substantial majority at least 
of the inhabitants of India are total abstainers. To this 
good result the adoption of Buddhism as stated by Dr. 
Mitra no doubt largely contributed. This was for some 
centuries the state religion, and was a strong force in aid of 
temperance as well as of abstention from flesh. The Sivite 
revival reacted in favour of liquor drinking as well as of the 
consumption of drugs. But the prohibition of alcohol 'has 
again been a leading tenet of practically all the Vaishnava 
reforming sects. 
8. Drunk- The intoxication of alcohol is considered by primitive 

enness and p e0 pl e as a form of divine inspiration or possession like 
inspiration, epileptic fits and insanity. This is apparently the explana- 
tion of the Vedic liquor, Soma, being deified as one of the 
greatest gods. In later Hindu mythology, Varuni, the 
goddess of wine, was produced when the gods churned the 
ocean with the mountain Mandara as a churning-stick on 
the back of the tortoise, Vishnu, and the serpent as a rope, 
for the purpose of restoring to man the comforts lost during 
the great flood. 2 Varuni was considered to be the consort 
of Varuna, the Vedic Neptune. 

Similarly the Bacchantes in their drunken frenzy were 
considered to be possessed by the wine - god Dionysus. 
" The Aztecs regarded pulque or the wine of the country as 
bad, on account of the wild deeds which men did under its 

1 l 'ndo- Aryans, i. p. 411. 
2 Garrett's Classical Dictionary, s.v. Varuni and Vishnu. 


influence. But these wild deeds were believed to be the 
acts, not of the drunken man, but of the wine-god by whom 
he was possessed and inspired ; and so seriously was this 
theory of inspiration held that if any one spoke ill of or 
insulted a tipsy man, he was liable to be punished for 
disrespect to the wine -god incarnate in his votary." 1 
Sir James Frazer thinks that the grape-juice was also 
considered to be the blood of the vine. At one time 
the arrack or rice-beer liquor was also considered by 
the Hindus as holy and purifying. Siva says to his 
consort : " Oh, sweet-speaking goddess, the salvation of 
Brahmans depends on drinking wine. . . . No one becomes 
a Brahman by repeating the Gayatri, the mother of the 
Vedas ; he is called a Brahman only when he has know- 
ledge of Brahma. The ambrosia of the gods is their 
Brahma, and on earth it is arrack, and because one attains 
the character of a god {suratvd) therefore is arrack called 
sttra." 2 , The Sakta Tantras insist upon the use of wine as 
an element of devotion. The Kaulas, who are the most 
ardent followers of the Sakta Tantras, celebrate their rites 
at midnight in a closed room, when they sit in a circle 
round a jar of country arrack, one or more young women of 
a lewd character being in the company ; they drink, drink 
and drink until they fall down on the ground in utter 
helplessness, then rising again they drink in the hope of 
never having a second birth. 3 " I knew a highly respectable 
widow lady, connected with one of the most distinguished 
families in Calcutta, who belonged to the Kaula sect, and 
had survived the 75 th anniversary of her birthday, who 
never said her prayers (and she did so regularly every 
morning and evening) without touching the point of her 
tongue with a tooth-pick dipped in a phial of arrack, and 
sprinkling a few drops of the liquor on the flowers which 
she offered to her god. I doubt very much if she had ever 
drunk a wine-glassful of arrack at once in all her life, and 
certain it is that she never had any idea of the pleasures of 
drinking ; but as a faithful Kaula she felt herself in duty 
bound to observe the mandates of her religion with the 

1 The Golden Bough, 2nd edition, 2 Indo-Aryans, pp. 408, 409. 

i. pp. 359, 360. 3 Ibidem, pp. 404, 405. 



g. Sanctity 

of liquor 
the Gonds 
and other 

greatest scrupulousness." a In this case it seems clear that 
the liquor was considered to have a purifying effect, which 
was perhaps especially requisite for the offerings of a widow. 
Similarly the Gonds and Baigas revere the mahua tree 
and consider the liquor distilled from its flowers as sacred 
and purificatory. At a Gond wedding the sacred post round 
which the couple go is made of the wood of the mahua tree. 
The Bhatras of Bastar also use the mahua for the wedding 
post, and the Sonkars of Chhattlsgarh a forked branch of the 
tree. Minor caste offences are expiated among the Gonds 
by a fine of liquor, and by drinking it the culprit is purified. 
At a Gond funeral one man may be seen walking with a bottle 
or two of liquor slung to his side ; this is drunk by all the 
party on the spot after the burial or burning of the corpse 
as a means of purification. Among the Korwas and other 
tribes the Baiga or priest protects the village from ghosts by 
sprinkling a line of liquor all round the boundary, over which 
the ghosts cannot pass. Similarly during epidemics of 
cholera liquor is largely used in the rites of the Baigas for 
averting the disease and is offered to the goddess. At their 
weddings the Mahars drink together ceremoniously, a pot of 
liquor being placed on a folded cloth and all the guests 
sitting round it in a circle. An elder man then lays a new 
piece of cloth on the pot and worships it. He takes a cup 
of the liquor himself and hands round a cupful to every 
person present. At the Hareli or festival of the new green 
vegetation in July the Gonds take the branches of four kinds 
of trees and place them at the corners of their fields and also 
inside the house over the door. They pour ghl (butter) on 
the fire as incense and an offering to the deities. Then they 
go to the meeting-place of the village and there they all take 
a bottle or two of liquor each and drink together, having 
first thrown a little on the ground as an offering. Then 
they invite each other to their houses to take food. The 
Baigas do not observe Hareli, but on any moonlight night 
in Shrawan (July) they will go to the field where they have 
sown grain and root up a few plants and bring them to the 
house, and, laying them on a clean place, pour ghi and a 
little liquor over them. Then they take the corn plants back 

1 Indo- Aryans, pp. 405, 406. 


to the field and replace them. For these rites and for 
offerings to the deities of disease the Gonds say that the 
liquor should be distilled at home by the person who offers 
the sacrifice and not purchased from the Government con- 
tractor. This is a reason or at any rate an excuse for the 
continuance of the practice of illicit distillation. Hindus 
generally make a libation to Devi before drinking liquor. 
They pour a little into their hand and sprinkle it in a circle 
on the ground, invoking the goddess. The palm-tree is also 
held sacred on account of the tori or toddy obtained from it. 
" The shreds of the holy palm-tree, holy because liquor- 
yielding, are worn by some of the early Konkan tribes and 
by some of the Konkan village gods. The strip of palm-leaf 
is the origin of the shape of one of the favourite Hindu gold 
bracelet patterns." 1 

The abstinence from liquor enjoined by modern Hinduism 10. Drugs 
to the higher castes of Hindus has unfortunately not extended 5^°^"" 
to the harmful drugs, opium, and ganja 2 or Indian hemp with divine, 
its preparations. On the contrary ganja is regularly con- 
sumed by Hindu ascetics, whether devotees of Siva or 
Vishnu, though it is more favoured by the Sivite Jogis. The 
blue throat of Siva or Mahadeo is said to be due to the 
enormous draughts of bhang z which he was accustomed to 
swallow. The veneration attached to these drugs may prob- 
ably be explained by the delusion that the pleasant dreams 
and visions obtained under their influence are excursions of 
the spirit into paradise. It is a common belief among 
primitive people that during sleep the soul leaves the body 
and that dreams are the actual experiences of the soul when 
travelling over the world apart from the body. 4 The 
principal aim of Hindu asceticism is also the complete con- 
quest of all sensation and movement in the body, so that 
while it is immobile the spirit freed from the trammels of the 
body and from all worldly cares and concerns may, as it is 
imagined, enter into communion with and be absorbed in the 
deity. Hence the physical inertia and abnormal mental 
exaltation produced by these drugs would be an ideal con- 

1 Bombay Gazettee?; Poona, p. 549. the hemp plant, commonly chunk in 

„ _ . . , . the hot weather. 

* Cannabis sativa. , c ,, ^ ,-,, ,,, „, ., , 

* See Mr. E. Clodd s Myths and 

3 A liquor made from the flowers of Dreams, under Dreams. 

3 i8 KALAR part 

dition to the Hindu ascetic ; the body is lulled to immobility 
and it is natural that he should imagine that the delightful 
fantasies of his drugged brain are beatific visions of heaven. 
Ganja and bhang are now considered sacred as being con- 
sumed by Mahadeo, and are offered to him. Before smoking 
ganja a Hindu will say, ' May it reach you, Shankar,' l that is, 
the smoke of the ganja, like the sweet savour of a sacrifice ; 
and before drinking bhang he will pour a little on the ground 
and say 'Jai Shankar.' 2 Similarly when cholera visits a 
village and various articles of dress with food and liquor are 
offered to the cholera goddess, Marhai Mata, smokers of 
ganja and madak 3 will offer a little of their drugs. Hindu 
ascetics who smoke ganja are accustomed to mix with it 
some seeds of the dhatura {Datura alba), which have a 
powerful stupefying effect. In large quantities these 
seeds are a common narcotic poison, being administered 
to travellers and others by criminals. This tree is sacred 
to Siva, and the purple and white flowers are offered on 
his altars, and probably for this reason it is often found 
growing in villages so that the poisonous seeds are readily 
available. Its sanctity apparently arises from the narcotic 
effects produced by the seeds. 

The conclusion of hostilities and ratification of peace 
after a Bhll fight was marked by the solemn administration 
of opium to all present by the Jogi or Gammaiti priests. 4 
This incident recalls the pipe of peace of the North American 
Indians, among whom a similar divine virtue was no doubt 
ascribed to tobacco. In ancient Greece the priestesses of 
Apollo consumed the leaves of the laurel to produce the 
prophetic ecstasy ; the tree was therefore held sacred and 
associated with Apollo and afterwards developed into a 
goddess in the shape of Daphne pursued by Apollo and 
transformed into a laurel. 5 The laurel was also con- 
sidered to have a purifying or expiatory effect like alcoholic 
liquor in India. Wreaths of laurel were worn by such 
heroes as Apollo and Cadmus before engaging in battle 
to cleanse themselves from the pollution of bloodshed, and 

1 A name of Siva or Mahadeo. 4 T. H. Hendley, Account of the 

2 'Victory to Shankar.' Bhlls,J.A.S.B. xliv., 1875, p. 360. 

3 A preparation of opium for 5 M. Salomon Reinach in Orphtus, 
smoking. p. 120. 


hence the laurel-wreath afterwards became the crown of 
victory. 1 

In India bluing was regularly drunk by the Rajputs before 
going into battle, to excite their courage and render them 
insensible to pain. The effects produced were probably held 
to be caused by divine agency. Herodotus says that the 
Scythians had a custom of burning the seeds of the hemp 
plant in religious ceremonies and that they became intoxi- 
cated with the fumes. 2 Ganja is the hashish of the Old Man 
of the Mountain and of Monte Cristo. The term hashshdsh, 
meaning ' a smoker or eater of hemp,' was first applied to 
Arab warriors in Syria at the time of the Crusades ; from its 
plural Jiashshasheen our word assassin is derived. 3 

The sacred or divine character attributed to the Indian „. opium 
drugs in spite of their pernicious effects has thus probably and S an J a - 
prevented any organised effort for their prohibition. 
Buchanan notes that " No more blame follows the use of 
opium and ganja than in Europe that of wine ; yet smoking 
tobacco is considered impure by the highest castes." 4 It is 
said, however, that a Brahman should abstain from drugs 
until he is in the last or ascetic stage of life. In India opium 
is both eaten and smoked. It is administered to children 
almost from the time of their birth, partly perhaps because 
its effects are supposed to be beneficial and also to prevent 
them from crying and keep them quiet while their parents 
are at work. One of the favourite methods of killing female 
children was to place a fatal dose of opium on the nipple 
of the mother's breast. Many children continue to receive 
small quantities of opium till they are several years old, some- 
times eight or nine, when it is gradually abandoned. It can 
scarcely be doubted that the effect of the drug must be to 
impair their health and enfeeble their vitality. The effect of 
eating opium on adults is much less pernicious than when 
the habit of smoking it is acquired. Madak or opium pre- 
pared for smoking may not now be sold, but people make it 
for themselves, heating the opium in a little brass cup over 
a fire with an infusion of tamarind leaves. It is then made 

1 Sir James Frazer in Attis, Adonis, Lane's Modern Egyptians, p. 347. 
Osiris, ii. p. 241. 3 Lane, Modern Egypt 'ictus, p. 348. 

2 Book IV., chap, lxxv., quoted in 4 Eastern India, iii. p. 163. 


320 KALAR part 

into little balls and put into the pipe. Opium-smokers are 
gregarious and par.take of the drug together. As the fumes 
mount to their brains, their intellects become enlivened, their 
tongues unloosed and the conversation ranges over all 
subjects in heaven and earth. This factitious excitement 
must no doubt be a powerful attraction to people whose lives 
are as dull as that of the average Hindu. And thus they 
become madakis or confirmed opium-smokers and are of no 
more use in life. Dhlmars or fishermen consume opium 
and ganja largely under the impression that these drugs 
prevent them from taking cold. Ganja is smoked and is 
usually mixed with tobacco. It is much less injurious than 
opium in the same form, except when taken in large quantities, 
and is also slower in acquiring a complete hold over its 
votaries. Many cultivators buy a little ganja at the weekly 
bazar and have one pipeful each as a treat. Sweepers are 
greatly addicted to ganja, and their patron saint Lalbeg was 
frequently in a comatose condition from over-indulgence in 
the drug. Ahirs or herdsmen also smoke it to while away 
the long days in the forests. But the habitual consumers 
of either kind of drug are now only a small fraction of 
the population, while English education and the more 
strenuous conditions of modern life have effected a substantial 
decline in their numbers, at least among the higher classes. 
At the same time a progressive increase is being effected 
by Government in the retail price of the drugs, and the 
number of vend licences has been very greatly reduced. 

The prohibition of wine to Muhammadans is held to 
include drugs, but it is not known how far the rule is strictly 
observed. But addiction to drugs is at any rate uncommon 
among Muhammadans. 

No kind of sanctity attaches to tobacco and, as has been 
seen, certain classes of Brahmans are forbidden to smoke 
though they may chew the leaves. Tobacco is prohibited 
by the Sikhs, the Satnamis and some other Vaishnava sects. 
The explanation of this attitude is sirrtple if, as is supposed, 
tobacco was first introduced into India by the Portuguese in 
the fifteenth century. 1 In this case as a new and foreign 
product it could have no sacred character, only those things 
1 Sir G. Watt's Commercial Products of India, s.v. Nicotiana. 

tonis m 


being held sacred and the gifts of the gods whose origin is 
lost in antiquity. In a note on the subject 1 Mr. Ganpat Rai 
shows that several references to smoking and also to the 
huqqa are found in ancient Sanskrit literature ; but it does 
not seem clear that the plant smoked was tobacco and, on 
the other hand, the similarity of the vernacular to the English 
name 2 is strong evidence in favour of its foreign origin. 

The country liquor, consisting of spirits distilled from 13- Cus 
the flowers of the mahua tree, is an indispensable adjunct to 
marriage and other ceremonial feasts among the lower castes with 
of Hindus and the non- Aryan tribes. It is usually drunk 
before the meal out of brass vessels, cocoanut-shells or leaf- 
cups, water being afterwards taken with the food itself. If 
an offender has to give a penalty feast for read mission to 
caste but the whole burden of the expense is beyond his 
means, other persons who may have committed minor 
offences and owe something to the caste on that account are 
called upon to provide the liquor. Similarly at the funeral 
feast the heir and chief mourner may provide the food and 
more distant relatives the liquor. The Gonds never take 
food while drinking, and as a rule one man does not drink 
alone. Three or four of them go to the liquor-shop together 
and each in turn buys a whole bottle of liquor which they 
share with each other, each bottle being paid for by one of 
the company and not jointly. And if a friend from another 
village turns up and is invited to drink he is not allowed to 
pay anything. In towns there will be in the vicinity of the 
liquor-shop retailers of little roasted balls of meat on sticks 
and cakes of gram-flour fried in salt and chillies. These the 
customers eat, presumably to stimulate their thirst or as a 
palliative to the effects of the spirit. Illicit distillation is 
still habitual among the Gonds of Mandla, who have been 
accustomed to make their own liquor from time immemorial. 
In the rains, when travelling is difficult and the excise 
officers cannot descend on them without notice, they make 
the liquor in their houses. In the open season they go to 

1 Ind. Ant., January 191 1, p. 39. is also Persian for tobacco militates 

2 Tobacco is no doubt a derivative against the Sanskrit derivation sug- 
from some American word, and 1'latts gested by Mr. Ganpat Rai and others, 
derives the Hindi tanbaku or tambaku and tends to demonstrate its American 
from tobacco. The fact that tanbaku importation. 

VOL. Ill Y 


the forest and find some spot secluded behind rocks and 
also near water. When the fermented mahua is ready they 
put up the distilling vat in the middle of the day so that the 
smoke may be less perceptible, and one of them will climb a 
tree and keep watch for the approach of the Excise Sub- 
Inspector and his myrmidons while the other distils. 



1. Origin and traditions. 9. Social customs and caste 

2. Subdivisions and marriage. penalties. 

3. The sister's son. 10. Tattooing. 

4. Menstruation. 11. Hair. 

5. Birth customs. 12. Occupation and 7nanner of 

6. Death and inheritance. life. 

7. Religious beliefs. 13. Their skill with bows and 

8. Veneration of iron and liquor. arrows. 

Kamar. — A small Dravidian tribe exclusively found in 1. Origin 
the Raipur District and adjoining States. They numbered anc \. . 

r jo j traditions. 

about 7000 persons in 191 1, and live principally in the 
Khariar and Bindranawagarh zamlndaris of Raipur. In 
Bengal and Chota Nagpur the term Kamar is merely 
occupational, implying a worker in iron, and similarly 
Kammala in the Telugu country is a designation given to 
the five artisan castes. Though the name is probably the 
same the Kamars of the Central Provinces are a purely 
aboriginal tribe and there is little doubt that they are an 
offshoot of the Gonds, nor have they any traditions of ever 
having been metal-workers. They claim to be autochthonous 
like most of the primitive tribes. They tell a long story 
of their former ascendancy, saying that a Kamar was the 
original ruler of Bindranawagarh. But a number of 
Kamars one day killed the bhimraj bird which had been 
tamed and taught hawking by a foreigner from Delhi. He 
demanded satisfaction, and when it was refused went to 

1 This article is based on papers Ganpati Giri, Manager of Bindrana- 

drawn up by Mr. Hira Lai, Extra wagarh, which has furnished the 

Assistant Commissioner, Pyare Lai greater part of the article, especially 

Misra, Ethnographic Clerk, and a the paragraphs on birth, religion and 

very full account of the tribe by Mr. social customs. 




Delhi and brought man-eating soldiers from there, who ate 
up all the Kamars except one pregnant woman. She took 
refuge in a Brahman's hut in Patna and there had a son, 
whom she exposed on a dung-heap for fear of scandal, as 
she was a widow at the time. Hence the boy was called 
Kachra-Dhurwa or rubbish and dust. This name may be 
a token of the belief of the Kamars that they were born 
from the earth as insects generate in dung and decaying 
organisms. Similarly one great subtribe of the Gonds are 
called Dhur or dust Gonds. Kachra-Dhurwa was endowed 
with divine strength and severed the head of a goat made 
of iron with a stick of bamboo. On growing up he collected 
his fellow-tribesmen and slaughtered all the cannibal soldiers, 
regaining his ancestral seat in Bindranawagarh. It is 
noticeable that the Kamars call the cannibal soldiers Aghori, 
the name of a sect of ascetics who eat human flesh. They 
still point to various heaps of lime-encrusted fossils in 
Bindranawagarh as the bones of the cannibal soldiers. The 
state of the Kamars is so primitive that it does not seem 
possible that they could ever have been workers in iron, 
but they may perhaps, like the Agarias, be a group of the 
Gonds who formerly quarried iron and thus obtained their 
distinctive name. 

They have two subdivisions, the Bundhrajia and Makadia. 
The latter are so called because they eat monkeys and are 
looked down on by the others. They have only a few gots 
or septs, all of which have the same names as those of Gond 
septs. The meaning of the names has now been forgotten. 
Their ceremonies also resemble those of the Gonds, and 
there can be little doubt that they are an offshoot of that 
tribe. Marriage within the sept is prohibited, but is per- 
mitted between the children of brothers and sisters or of 
two sisters. Those who are well-to-do marry their children 
at about ten years old, but among the bulk of the caste 
adult-marriage is in fashion, and the youths and maidens are 
sometimes allowed to make their own choice. At the 
betrothal the boy and girl are made to stand together so 
that the caste panchayat or elders may see the suitability 
of the match, and a little wine is sprinkled in the name of 
the gods. The marriage ceremony is a simple one, the 


marriage-post being erected at the boy's house. The party- 
go to the girl's house to fetch her, and there is a feast, 
followed by a night of singing and dancing. They then 
return to the boy's house and the couple go round the 
sacred pole and throw rice over each other seven times. 
All the guests also throw rice over the couple with the 
object, it is said, of scaring off the spirits who are always 
present on this occasion, and protecting the bride and bride- 
groom from harm. But perhaps the rice is really meant to 
give fertility to the match. The wife remains with her 
husband for four days and then they return to the house of 
her parents, where the wedding clothes stained yellow with 
turmeric must be washed. After this they again proceed to 
the bridegroom's house and live together. Polygamy and 
widow-marriage are allowed, the ceremony in the marriage 
of a widow consisting simply in putting bangles on her 
wrists and giving her a piece of new cloth. The Kamars 
never divorce their wives, however loose their conduct may 
be, as they say that a lawful wife is above all suspicion. 
They also consider it sinful to divorce a wife. The liaison 
of an unmarried girl is passed over even with a man outside 
the caste, unless he is of a very low caste, such as a Ganda. 

As among some of the other primitive tribes, a man 3. The 
stands in a special relation to his sister's children. The sisters: 
marriage of his children with his sister's children is con- 
sidered as the most suitable union. If a man's sister is 
poor he will arrange for the wedding of her children. He 
will never beat his sister's children, however much they may 
deserve it, and he will not permit his sister's son or daughter 
to eat from the dish from which he eats. This special 
connection between a maternal uncle and his nephew is held 
to be a survival of the matriarchate, when a man stood in 
the place a father now occupies to his sister's children, the 
real father having nothing to do with them. 

During the period of her monthly impurity a woman is 4. Men- 
secluded for eight days. She may not prepare food nor 
draw water nor worship the gods, but she may sweep the 
house and do outdoor work. She sleeps on the ground and 
every morning spreads fresh cowdung over the place where 
she has slept. The Kamars think that a man who touched 




a woman in this condition would be destroyed by the house- 
hold god. When a woman in his household is impure in 
this manner a man will bathe before going into the forest 
lest he should pollute the forest gods. 

A woman is impure for six days after a birth until the 
performance of the Chathi or sixth-day ceremony, when the 
child's head is shaved and the mother and child are bathed 
and their bodies rubbed with oil and turmeric. After this 
a woman can go about her work in the house, but she may 
not cook food nor draw water for two and a half months 
after the birth of a male child, nor for three months after 
that of a female one. Till the performance of the Chathi 
ceremony the husband is also impure, and he may not worship 
the gods or go hunting or shooting or even go for any 
distance into the forest. If a child is born within six 
months of the death of any person in the family, they think 
that the dead relative has been reborn in the child and give 
the child the same name, apparently without distinction of 
sex. If a mother's milk runs dry and she cannot suckle 
her child they give her fresh fish and salt to eat, and think 
that this will cause the milk to flow. The idea of eating the 
fish is probably that being a denizen of the liquid element it 
will produce liquid in the mother's body, but it is not clear 
whether the salt has any special meaning. 

The dead are buried with the head to the north, and 
mourning is nominally observed for three days. But they 
have no rules of abstinence, and do not even bathe to purify 
themselves as almost all castes do. Sons inherit equally, 
and daughters do not share with sons. But if there are no 
sons, then an unmarried daughter or one married to a 
Lamsena, or man who has served for her, and living in the 
house, takes the whole property for her lifetime, after which 
it reverts to her father's family. Widows, Mr. Ganpati Giri 
states, only inherit in the absence of male heirs. 
7. Reiigi- They worship Dulha Deo and Devi, and have a firm 

ous beliefs, belief in magic. They tell a curious story about the origin 
of the world, which recalls that of the Flood. They say 
that in the beginning God created a man and a woman to 
whom two children of opposite sex were born in their old 
age. Mahadeo, however, sent a deluge over the world in 


order to drown a jackal who had angered him. The old 
couple heard that there was going to be a deluge, so they 
shut up their children in a hollow piece of wood with provision 
of food to last them until it should subside. They then 
closed up the trunk, and the deluge came and lasted for 
twelve years, the old couple and all other living things on 
the earth being drowned, but the trunk floated on the face 
of the waters. After twelve years Mahadeo created two 
birds and sent them to see whether his enemy the jackal had 
been drowned. The birds flew over all the corners of the 
world, but saw nothing except a log of wood floating on the 
surface of the water, on which they perched. After a short 
time they heard low and feeble voices coming from inside 
the log. They heard the children saying to each other that 
they only had provision for three days left. So the birds 
flew away and told Mahadeo, who then caused the flood to 
subside, and taking out the children from the log of wood, 
heard their story. He thereupon brought them up, and 
they were married, and Mahadeo gave the name of a different 
caste to every child who was born to them, and from them 
all the inhabitants of the world are descended. The fact 
that the Kamars should think their deity capable of destroying 
the whole world by a deluge, in order to drown a jackal 
which had offended him, indicates how completely they are 
wanting in any exalted conception of morality. They are 
said to have no definite ideas of a future life nor any 
belief in a resurrection of the body. But they believe in 
future punishment in the case of a thief, who, they say, will 
be reborn as a bullock in the house of the man whose 
property he has stolen, or will in some other fashion expiate 
his crime. They think that the sun and moon are beings in 
human shape, and that darkness is caused by the sun going 
to sleep. They also think that a railway train is a live and 
sentient being, and that the whistle of the engine is its cry, 
and they propitiate the train with offerings lest it should do 
them some injury. When a man purposes to go out hunting, 
Mr. Ganpati Giri states, he consults the village priest, who 
tells him whether he will fail or succeed. If the prediction 
is unfavourable he promises a fowl or a goat to his family 
god in order to obtain his assistance, and then confidently 


expects success. When an animal has been killed and 
brought home, the hunter cuts off the head, and after washing 
it with turmeric powder and water makes an offering of it 
to the forest god. Ceremonial fishing expeditions are some- 
times held, in which all the men and women of the village 
participate, and on such occasions the favour of the water- 
goddess is first invoked with an offering of five chickens and 
various feminine adornments, such as vermilion, lamp-black 
for the eyes, small glass bangles and a knot of ribbons made 
of cotton or silk, after which a large catch of fish is 
anticipated. The men refrain from visiting their wives 
on the day before they start for a hunting or fishing 

The tribe have a special veneration for iron, which they 
now say is the emblem of Durga Mata or the goddess of 
smallpox. On their chief festivals of Hareli and Dasahra 
all iron implements are washed and placed together in the 
house, where they are worshipped with offerings of rice, 
flowers and incense ; nor may any iron tool be brought into 
use on this day. On the day appointed for the worship of 
Dulha Deo, the bridegroom god, or other important deities, 
and on the Dasahra festival, they will not permit fire or 
anything else to be taken out of the house. Before drinking 
liquor they will pour a few drops on the ground, making a 
libation first to mother-earth, then to their family and other 
important gods, and lastly to their ancestors. 

The Kamars will eat with all except the very lowest 
castes, and do not refuse any kind of food. The Bundhrajias, 
however, abstain from the flesh of snakes, crocodiles and 
monkeys, and on this account claim to be superior to the 
Makadias who eat these animals. Temporary exclusion 
from caste is imposed for the usual offences, and in serious 
cases, such as adultery with a woman of impure caste or 
taking food from her, the penalty is severe. The offender 
puts a straw and a piece of iron between his teeth, and 
stands before the elders with one leg lifted in his clasped 
hands. He promises never to repeat the offence nor permit 
his children to do so, and falls prostrate at the feet of each 
elder, imploring his forgiveness. He supplies the elders with 
rice, pulse, salt and vegetables for two days, and on the 


third day he and his family prepare a feast with one or 
more goats and two rupees' worth of liquor. The elders eat 
of this in his house, and readmit him to social intercourse. 

The women are tattooed either before or after marriage, 10. Tattoo- 
the usual figures being a peacock on the shoulders, a scorpion lns ' 
on the back of the hand, and dots representing flies on the 
fingers. On their arms and legs they have circular lines of 
dots representing the ornaments usually worn, and they say 
that if they are destitute in the other world they will be able 
to sell these. This indicates that the more civilised of them, 
at any rate, now believe in a future life. They also have 
circular dotted lines round the knees which they say will help 
them to climb to heaven. Like the Gonds the men scarify 
their bodies by burning the outer skin of the forearm in three 
or four places with a small piece of burning cloth. 

The men shave the whole head on the death of a father n. Hair. 
or other venerable relative, but otherwise they never cut their 
hair, and let it grow long, twisting it into a bunch at the 
back of the head. They shave off or eradicate the hair of 
the face and pubes, but that on other parts of the body is 
allowed to remain. The hair of the head is considered to 
be sacred. 

The tribe wear only the narrowest possible strip of cloth 12. Occu- 
round the loins, and another strip on the head, one end of P atl0n and 

r ' manner 

which is often allowed to hang down over the ear. Formerly of life, 
they lived by daliya cultivation, burning down patches of 
forest and scattering seed on the ground fertilised by the 
ashes, and they greatly resent the prohibition of this destruc- 
tive method. They have now taken to making baskets and 
other articles from the wood of the bamboo. They are of 
dirty habits, and seldom wash themselves. Forty years ago 
their manner of life was even ruder than at present, as shown 
in the following notice 1 of them by Mr. Ball in 1876: 

" Proceeding along the bed of the valley I came upon two 
colonies of a wild race of people called Kamars by their 
neighbours. They were regular Troglodytes in their habits, 
dwelling in caves and existing chiefly on roots and fish. It 
is singular to observe how little the people of these wild races 
do to protect themselves from the inclemency of the weather. 

1 Jungle Life in India, p. 588. 



In one of these caves the sole protection from the air was a 
lean-to of loosely placed branches. The people seemed to be 
very timid, hiding themselves on our approach. I did not 
therefore like to attempt an examination of their dwellings. 
After some calling on our part one man was induced to make 
his appearance. He was a most wretched-looking, leprous 
object, having lost several fingers and toes. He could give 
no very definite explanation as to his means of subsistence. 
All he could say was that he lived ' by picking up odds 
and ends here and there.' However, he seemed to be able 
to afford himself the solace of tobacco. A few cocks and 
hens at one of the caves, and a goat at the other, were the 
only domestic animals which I saw." 
13. Their The tribe are of small stature. They are very fond of 

bowsTnd h un tingr> and are expert at using their bows and arrows, with 
arrows. which they have killed even bison. Mr. W. E. Ley, C.S., 
relates the following particulars of a recent murder by a 
Kamar in Raipur : Two Hindus went to a Kamar' s house 
in the jungle to dun him for a debt. He could not pay the 
debt, but invited them to take food in his house. At the 
meal the creditor's companion said the food was bad, and a 
quarrel thereupon ensuing, slapped the Kamar in the face. 
The latter started up, snatched up his bow and arrow and 
axe, and ran away into the jungle. The Hindus then set 
out for home, and as they were afraid of being attacked by 
the Kamar, they took his brother with them as a protection. 
Nevertheless the Kamar shot one of them through the side, 
the arrow passing through the arm and penetrating the lung. 
He then shot the other through the chest, and running in, 
mutilated his body in a shocking manner. When charged 
with the murders he confessed them freely, saying that he 
was a wild man of the woods and knew no better. 



[Bibliography: Mr. J. C. Nesfield's The Kanjars of Upper India, Calcutta 
Review, vol. lxxvii., 1883 > Mr. Crooke's Castes and Tribes, art. Kanjar ; 
Major Gunthorpe's Criminal Tribes; Mr. Kitts' Berar Census Report (1881) ; 
Mr. Gayer's Lectures on Criminal Tribes of the Central Provinces.] 


1. Derivation of the Kanjars from 4. The Doms. 

the Doms. 5 . The criminal Kanjars. 

1. The Kanjars and the Gipsies. 6. The Kunchband Kanjars. 

3. The Thugs derived from the 7. Marriage and religion. 

Kanjars. 8. Social customs. 

9. Industrial arts. 

Kanjar. — A name applied somewhat loosely to various i. Deriva- 
small communities of a gipsy character who wander about ^miais 
the country. In 191 I about 1000 Kuchbandhia Kanjars from the 
were returned in the Province. In Berar the Kanjars seem 
to be practically identical with the Sansias; Major Gunthorpe 1 
gives Kanjar and Sansia as alternative names of the same 
caste of criminals, and this is also done by Mr. Kennedy in 
Bombay. 2 Mr. Kitts writes of them : :! " The Deccani and 
Marwari Kanjars were originally Bhats (bards) of the Jat 
tribe ; and as they generally give themselves out to be Bhats 
are probably not included at all among the Kanjars returned 
at the census. They are a vagrant people, living in tents 
and addicted to crime. The women are good-looking ; some 
are noted for their obscene songs, filthy alike in word and 
gesture ; while others, whose husbands play on the sdrangi, 
lead a life of immorality. The men are often skilful acrobats." 
And in another passage : 4 " The Sansia family or the ' Long 
Firm ' of India includes two principal divisions represented 

1 Criminal Tribes, p. 78. 3 Berar Census Report (1881), p. 140. 

2 Criminal Classes. * Page 139. 


332 KANJAR part 

in Berar by the Kanjars and Kolhatis respectively. They 
will eat, drink and smoke together, and occasionally join in 
committing dacoity. They eat all kinds of meat and drink 
all liquors ; they are lax of morals and loose of life." Now 
in northern India the business of acting as bards to the Jats 
and begging from them is the traditional function of the 
Sansias ; and we may therefore conclude that so far as Berar 
and the Maratha Districts are concerned the Kanjars are 
identical with the Sansias, while the Kolhatis mentioned by 
Mr. Kitts are the same people as the Berias, as shown in the 
article on Kolhati, and the Berias themselves are another 
branch of the Sansias. 1 There seems some reason to suppose 
that these four closely allied groups, the Kanjar or Sansia, 
and the Kolhati or Beria, may have their origin from the 
great Dom caste of menials and scavengers in Hindustan 
and Bengal. In the Punjab the Doms are the regular bards 
and genealogists of the lower castes, being known also as 
Mirasi : " The two words are used throughout the Province 
as absolutely synonymous. The word Mirasi is derived 
from the Arabic viirds or inheritance ; and the Mirasi is to 
the inferior agricultural castes and the outcaste tribes what 
the Bhat is to the Rajputs." 2 In the article on Sansia it is 
shown that the primary calling of the Sansias was to act as 
bards and genealogists of the Jats ; and this common occu- 
pation is to some extent in favour of the original identity of the 
two castes Dom and Sansia, though Sir D. Ibbetson was not of 
this opinion. 3 In the United Provinces Mr. Crooke gives the 
Jallad or executioners as one of the main divisions of the 
Kanjars ; 4 and the Jallads of Umballa are said to be the 
descendants of a Kanjar family who were attached to the 
Delhi Court as executioners. 5 But the Jallad or sfipwala is also 
a name of the Doms. " The term Jallad, which is an Arabic 
name for 'A public flogger,' is more especially applied to those 
Doms who are employed in cities to kill ownerless dogs and 
to act as public executioners." 6 Mr. Gayer states that as the 
result of special inquiries made by an experienced police-officer 
it would appear that these Jallad Kanjars are really Doms. 7 

1 See art. Beria, para. i. 4 Art. Kanjar, para. 3. 

- Ibbetson, Punjab Census Repoii 6 Ibbetson. 

(1 88 1), para. 527. c Crooke, art. Dom, para. 21. 

3 Ibidem. 7 Lectures, p. 59. 


In Gujarat the Mlrs or Mirasis are also known as Dom after 
the tribe of that name ; they were originally of two classes, 
one the descendants of Gujarat Bhats or bards, the other 
from northern India, partly of Bhat descent and partly 
connected with the Doms. 1 And the Sansias and Berias in 
Bombay when accompanied by their families usually pass 
themselves off as Gujarati Bhats, that is, bards of the Jat 
caste from Marwar or of the Kolis from Gujarat. 2 Major 
Gunthorpe states that the Kolhatis or Berias of Berar appear 
to be the same as the Domras of Bengal ; 3 and Mr. Kitts 
that the Kham Kolhatis are the Domarus of Telingana. 4 In 
writing of the Kanjar bards Sherring also says : " These are 
the Kanjars of Gondwana, the Sansis of northern India ; 
they are the most desperate of all dacoits and wander about 
the country as though belonging to the Gujarati Domtaris or 
showmen." The above evidence seems sufficient to establish 
a prima facte case in favour of the Dom origin of these gipsy 
castes. It may be noticed further that the Jallad Kanjars 
of the United Provinces are also known as Supwala or 
makers of sieves and winnowing-fans, a calling which belongs 
specially to the Doms, Bhangis, and other sweeper castes. 
Both Doms and Bhangis have divisions known as Bansphor 
or ' breaker of bamboos,' a name which has the same 
signification as Supwala. Again, the deity of the criminal 
Doms of Bengal is known as Sansari Mai. 5 

The Kanjars and Berias are the typical gipsy castes of 2 . The 
India, and have been supposed to be the parents of the Kan J^ rs 
European gipsies. On this point Mr. Nesfield writes : Gipsies. 
" The commonly received legend is that multitudes of 
Kanjars were driven out of India by the oppressions of 
Tamerlane, and it is inferred that the gipsies of Europe are 
their direct descendants by blood, because they speak like 
them a form of the Hindi language." ° Sir G. Grierson 
states : 7 "According to the Shah-nama, the Persian monarch 
Bahram Gaur received in the fifth century from an Indian 

1 Bombay Gazetteer, Muhamniadans * Berar Census Report (1881), p. 
of Gujarat, p. 83. 140. 

2 T - j . 6 Tiibes and Castes of Bengal, art. 
J Kennedy, Criminal Tribes of -p. J * ' 

Bombay, p. 2 e.7. » Jt c u •» 

•" r J/ 6 Nesheld, I.e. p. 393. 

3 Criminal Tribes, p. 46. i Ind. Ant. xvi. p. 37, 

334 KANJAR part 

king 1 2,000 musicians who were known as Luris, and the 
Luris or Lulis, that is gipsies, of modern Persia are the 
descendants of these." These people were also called Lutt, 
and hence it was supposed that they were the Indian Jats. 
Sir G. Grierson, however, shows it to be highly improbable 
that the Jats, one of the highest castes of cultivators, could 
ever have furnished a huge band of professional singers and 
dancers. He on the contrary derives the gipsies from the 
Dom tribe : 1 " Mr. Leland has made a happy suggestion 
that the original gipsies may have been Doms of India. He 
points out that Romany is almost letter for letter the same 
as Domni (;gwrt), the plural of Dom. Domni is the plural 
form in the Bhojpuri dialect of the Bihari language. It was 
originally a genitive plural ; so that Romany-Rye, ' A gipsy 
gentleman,' may be well compared with the Bhojpuri Domni 
Rai, ' A king of the Doms.' The Bhojpuri-speaking Doms 
are a famous race, and they have many points of resemblance 
with the gipsies of Europe. Thus they are darker in com- 
plexion than the surrounding Biharis, are great thieves, live 
by hunting, dancing and telling fortunes, their women have 
a reputation for making love- philtres and medicines to pro- 
cure abortion, they keep fowls (which no orthodox Hindu 
will do), and are said to eat carrion. They are also great 
musicians and horsemen. The gipsy grammar is closely 
connected with Bhojpuri, and the following mongrel, half- 
gipsy, half- English rhyme will show the extraordinary 
similarity of the two vocabularies : 2 

Gipsy. "^ The Rye (squire) he mores (hunts) adrey the wesh (wood) 
Bhojpuri. J Rai mare andal besh (Pers. , $,?>) 

Gipsy. "^ The kaun-engro (ear-fellow, hare) and chiriclo (bird). 
Bhojpuri. j Kanwala chirin 

Gipsy. "1 You sovs (sleep) with leste (him) drey (within) the wesh (wood) 
Bhojpuri. / soe andal besh 

Gipsy. Y And rigs (carry) for leste (him) the gono (sack, game-bag). 
Bhojpuri. ) gon 

1 Ind. Ant. xv. p. 15. Nagari character ; but this cannot be 

reproduced. It is possible that one 
- In Sir G. Grierson's account the or two mistakes have been made in 
Bhojpuri version is printed in the transliteration. 


Gipsy. "I Oprey (above) the rukh (tree) adrey (within) the wesh (wood) 
Bhojpuri. / Upri rukh andal bcsh 

Gipsy. ^Are chiriclo (male-bird) and chiricli (female-bird). 
Bhojpuri. j chirin ehirin 

Gipsy. \ Tuley (below) the rukh (tree) adrey (within) the wesh (wood) 
Bhojpuri. j Tule rukh andal bcsh 

Gipsy. ^ Are pireno (lover) and pireni (lady-love). 
Bhojpuri. / ftyara ftyari 

In the above it must be remembered that the verbal termina- 
tions of the gipsy text are English and not gipsy." 

Sir G. Grierson also adds (in the passage first quoted) : 
" I may note here a word which lends a singular confirmation 
to the theory. It is the gipsy term for bread, which is manro 
or manro. This is usually connected either with the Gaudian 
manr ' rice-gruel ' or with manrua, the millet {Eleusine cora- 
cana). Neither of these agrees with the idea of bread, but 
in the Magadhi dialect of Bihari, spoken south of the Ganges 
in the native land of these Maghiya Doms, there is a peculiar 
word manda or manra which means wheat, whence the 
transition to the gipsy manro, bread, is eminently natural." 

The above argument renders it probable that the gipsies 
are derived from the Doms ; and as Mr. Nesfield gives it as 
a common legend that they originated from the Kanjars, 
this is perhaps another connecting link between the Doms 
and Kanjars. The word gipsy is probably an abbreviation 
of ' Egyptian,' the country assigned as the home of the 
gipsies in mediaeval times. It has already been seen that 
the Doms are the bards and minstrels of the lower castes in 
the Punjab, and that the Kanjars and Sansias, originally 
identical or very closely connected, were in particular the 
bards of the Jats. It is a possible speculation that they 
may have been mixed up with the lower classes of Jats or 
have taken their name, and that this has led to the confusion 
between the Jats and gipsies. Some support is afforded to 
this suggestion by the fact that the Kanjars of Jubbulpore 
say that they have three divisions, the Jat, Multani and 
Kuchbandia. The Jat Kanjars are, no doubt, those who 
acted as bards to the Jats, and hence took the name ; and if 
the ancestors of these people emigrated from India they may 
have given themselves out as Jat. 



In the article on Thug it is suggested that a large, if not 
the principal, section of the Thugs were derived from the 
Kanjars. At the Thug marriages an old matron would 
sometimes repeat, " Here's to the spirits of those who once 
led bears and monkeys ; to those who drove bullocks and 
marked with the godini (tattooing-needle) ; and those who 
made baskets for the head." And these are the occupations 
of the Kanjars and Berias. The Goyandas of Jubbulpore, 
descendants of Thug approvers, are considered to be a class 
of gipsy Muhammadans, akin to or identical with the Kanjars, 
of whom the Multani subdivision are also Muhammadans. 
Like the Kanjar women the Goyandas make articles of net 
and string. There is also a colony of Berias in Jubbulpore, 
and these are admittedly the descendants of Thugs who 
were located there. If the above argument is well founded, 
we are led to the interesting conclusion that four of the most 
important vagrant and criminal castes of India, as well as 
the Mirasis or low-class Hindu bards, the gipsies, and a large 
section of the Thugs, are all derived from the great Dom 

The Doms appear to be one of the chief aboriginal tribes 
of northern India, who were reduced to servitude like the 
Mahars and Chamars. Sir H. M. Elliot considered them 
to be " One of the original tribes of India. Tradition fixes 
their residence to the north of the Ghagra, touching the 
Bhars on the east in the vicinity of the Rohini. Several old 
forts testify to their former importance, and still retain the 
names of their founders, as, for instance, Domdiha and 
Domingarh in the Gorakhpur district. Ramgarh and 
Sahukot on the Rohini are also Dom forts." l Sir G. 
Grierson quotes Dr. Fleet as follows : "In a south Indian 
inscription a king Rudradeva is said to have subdued a 
certain Domma, whose strength evidently lay in his cavalry. 
No clue is given as to who this Domma was, but he may 
have been the leader of some aboriginal tribe which had not 
then lost all its power " ; and suggests that this Domma may 
have been a leader of the Doms, who would then be shown 
to have been dominant in southern India. As already seen 
there is a Domaru caste of Telingana, with whom Mr. Kitts 

1 Quoted in Mr. Crooke's article on Dom. 


identified the Berias or Kolhatis. In northern India the 
Doms were reduced to a more degraded condition than the 
other pre-Aryan tribes as they furnished a large section of 
the sweeper caste. As has been seen also they were em- 
ployed as public executioners like the Mangs. This brief 
mention of the Doms has been made in view of the interest 
attaching to them on account of the above suggestions, and 
because there will be no separate article on the caste. 

In Berar two main divisions of the Kanjars may be 5- The 
recognised, the Kunchbandhia or those who make weavers' Kanjars 
brooms and are comparatively honest, and the other or 
criminal Kanjars. 1 The criminal Kanjars may again be 
divided into the Marwari and Deccani groups. They were 
probably once the same, but the Deccanis, owing to their 
settlement in the south, have adopted some Maratha or 
Gujarati fashions, and speak the Marathi language ; their 
women wear the angia or Maratha breast-cloth fastening 
behind, and have a gold ornament shaped like a flower in 
the nose; 2 while the Marwari Kanjars have no breast-cloth 
and may not wear gold ornaments at all. The Deccani 
Kanjars are fond of stealing donkeys, their habit being either 
to mix their own herds with those of the village and drive 
them all off together, or, if they catch the donkeys unattended, 
to secrete them in some water-course, tying their legs together, 
and if they remain undiscovered to remove them at nightfall. 
The animals are at once driven away for a long distance 
before any attempt is made to dispose of them. The 
Marwari Kanjars consider it derogatory to keep donkeys 
and therefore do not steal these animals. They are pre- 
eminently cattle-lifters and sheep-stealers, and their encamp- 
ments may be recognised by the numbers of bullocks and 
cows about them. Their women wear the short Marwari 
petticoat reaching half-way between the knees and ankles. 
Their hair is plaited over the forehead and cowrie shells 
and brass ornaments like buttons are often attached in it. 
Bead necklaces are much worn by the women and bead and 
horse-hair necklets by the men. A peculiarity about the 

1 Gayer, Lectures, p. 59. a clove (Iavang) in the left nostril ; the 

Sansias, but not the Berias, wear a 

2 Gnnthorpe, p. 81. Mr. Kennedy bullaq or pendant in the fleshy part of 
says : " Sansia and Beria women have the nose." 

VOL. Ill Z 

338 KANJAR tart 

women is that they are confirmed snuff-takers and consume 
great quantities of the weed in this form. The women go 
into the towns and villages and give exhibitions of singing 
and dancing ; and picking up any information they can 
acquire about the location of property, impart this to the 
men. Sometimes they take service, and a case was known 
in Jubbulpore of Kanjar women hiring themselves out as 
pankha-pullers, with the result that the houses in which they 
were employed were subsequently robbed. 1 It is said, how- 
ever, that they do not regularly break into houses, but confine 
themselves to lurking theft. I have thought it desirable to 
record here the above particulars of the criminal Kanjars, 
taken from Major Gunthorpe's account ; for, though the caste 
is, as already stated, identical with the Sansias, their customs 
in Berar differ considerably from those of the Sansias of 
Central India, who are treated of in the article on that caste. 
6. The We come, finally, to the Kunchband Kanjars, the most 

Kunch- representative section of the caste, who as a body are not 

band L X 

Kanjars. criminals, or at any rate less so than the others. The name 
Kunchband or Kuchband, by which they are sometimes 
known, is derived from their trade of making brushes (kiinch) 
of the roots of khas-khas grass, which are used by weavers 
for cleaning the threads entangled on the looms. This has 
given rise to the proverb ' Kori ka bigdri Kilnchbandhia ' or 
' The Kunchbandhia must look to the Kori (weaver) as his 
patron ' ; the point being that the Kori is himself no better 
than a casual labourer, and a man who is dependent on him 
must be in a poor way indeed. The Kunchbandhias are also 
known in northern India as Sankat or Patharkat, because 
they make and sharpen the household grinding-stones, this 
being the calling of the Takankar Pardhis in the Maratha 
Districts, and as Goher because they catch and eat the goli, the 
large lizard or iguana. 2 Other divisions are the Dhobibans 
or washerman's race, the Lakarhar or wood-cutters, and the 
Untwar or camelmen. 
Mar- In the Central Provinces there are other divisions, as the 

Jat and Multani Kanjars. They say they have two exo- 
gamous divisions, Kalkha and Malha, and a member of 
either of these must take a wife from the other division. 
1 Gayer, I.e. p. 6i. * Crooke, I.e. para. 3. 

riage and 


Both the Kalkhas and Malhas are further divided into kids 
or sections, but the influence of these on marriage is not clear. 
At a Kanjar marriage, Mr. Crooke states, the gadela or spade 
with which they dig out the kJias-klias grass and kill wolves 
or vermin, is placed in the marriage pavilion during the 
ceremony. The bridegroom swears that he will not drive 
away nor divorce his wife, and sometimes a mehar or dowry 
is also fixed for the bride. The father-in-law usually, how- 
ever, remits a part or the whole of this subsequently, when 
the bridegroom goes to take food at his house on festival 
occasions. Mr. Nesfield states that the principal deity of the 
Kanjars is the man-god Mana, who was not only the teacher 
and guide, but also the founder and ancestor of the tribe. 
He is buried, as some Kanjars relate, at Kara in the Alla- 
habad District, not far from the Ganges and facing the old 
city of Manikpur on the opposite bank. Mana is worshipped 
with special ceremony in the rainy season, when the tribe is 
less migratory than in the dry months of the year. On such 
occasions, if sufficient notice is circulated, several encamp- 
ments unite temporarily to pay honour to their common 
ancestor. The worshippers collect near a tree under which 
they sacrifice a pig, a goat, a sheep, or a fowl, and make an 
offering of roasted flesh and spirituous liquor. Formerly, it 
is said, they used to sacrifice a child, having first made it 
insensible with fermented palm-juice or toddy. 1 They dance 
round the tree in honour of Mana, and sing the customary 
songs in commemoration of his wisdom and deeds of valour. 

The dead are usually buried, both male and female 8. Social 
corpses being laid on their faces with the feet pointing to customs - 
the south. Kanjars who become Muhammadans may be 
readmitted to the community after the following ceremony. 
A pit is dug and the convert sits in it and each Kanjar throws 
a little curds on to his body. He then goes and bathes in 
a river, his tongue is touched or branded with heated gold 
and he gives a feast to the community. A Kanjar woman 
who has lived in concubinage with a Brahman, Rajput, 
Agarwal Bania, Kurmi, Ahir or Lodhi may be taken back 

1 In a footnote Mr. Nesfield states: out its neck to the knife as if it desired 
" The Kanjar who communicated these to be sacrificed to the deity." 
facts said that the child used to open 


34 o KANJAR part 

into the caste after the same ceremony ; but not one 
who has lived with a Kayasth, Sunar or Lohar or any lower 
caste. A Kanjar is not put out of caste for being im- 
prisoned, nor for being beaten by an outsider, nor for 
selling shoes. If a man touches his daughter-in-law even 
accidentally he is fined the sum of Rs. 2-8. 
9 . in- The following account of the industries of the vagrant 

dustriai Kanjars was written by Mr. Nesfield in 1883. In the 
Central Provinces many of them are now more civilised, 
and some are employed in Government service. Their 
women also make and retail string-net purses, balls and other 

" Among the arts of the Kanjar are making mats of the 
sirki reed, baskets of wattled cane, fans of palm-leaves and 
rattles of plaited straw : these last are now sold to Hindu 
children as toys, though originally they may have been used 
by the Kanjars themselves (if we are to trust to the analogy 
of other backward races) as sacred and mysterious imple- 
ments. From the stalks of the munj grass and from the 
roots of the palas 1 tree they make ropes which are sold or 
bartered to villagers in exchange for grain and milk. They 
prepare the skins of which drums are made and sell them 
to Hindu musicians ; though, probably, as in the case of the 
rattle, the drum was originally used by the Kanjars them- 
selves and worshipped as a fetish ; for even the Aryan tribes, 
who are said to have been far more advanced than the 
indigenous races, sang hymns in honour of the drum or 
dundubhi as if it were something sacred. They make plates 
of broad leaves which are ingeniously stitched together by 
their stalks ; and plates of this kind are very widely used 
by the inferior Indian castes and by confectioners and sellers 
of sweetmeats. The mats of sirki reed with which they cover 
their own movable leaf huts are models of neatness and 
simplicity and many of these are sold to cart-drivers. The 
toddy or juice of the palm tree, which they extract and 
ferment by methods of their own and partly for their own 
use, finds a ready sale among low-caste Hindus in villages 
and market towns. They are among the chief stone-cutters 
in Upper India, especially in the manufacture of the grinding- 

1 Bit tea frondosa. 


mill which is very widely used. This consists of two 
circular stones of equal diameter ; the upper one, which is 
the thicker and heavier, revolves on a wooden pivot fixed 
in the centre of the lower one and is propelled by two 
women, each holding the same handle. But it is also not 
less frequent for one woman to grind alone." It is perhaps 
not realised what this business of grinding her own grain 
instead of buying flour means to the Indian woman. She 
rises before daybreak to commence the work, and it takes 
her perhaps two or three hours to complete the day's pro- 
vision. Grain-grinding for hire is an occupation pursued 
by poor women. The pisanhdri, as she is called, receives 
an anna (penny) for grinding 16 lbs. of grain, and can get 
through 30 lbs. a day. In several localities temples are 
shown supposed to have been built by some pious pisanhari 
from her earnings. " The Kanjars," Mr. Nesfield continues, 
" also gather the white wool-like fibre which grows in the 
pods of the semal or Indian cotton tree and twist it into 
thread for the use of weavers. 1 In the manufacture of 
brushes for the cleaning of cotton-yarn the Kanjars enjoy 
almost a complete monopoly. In these brushes a stiff mass 
of horsehair is attached to a wooden handle by sinews and 
strips of hide ; and the workmanship is remarkably neat and 
durable. 2 Another complete or almost complete monopoly 
enjoyed by Kanjars is the collection and sale of sweet- 
scented roots of the kJias-klias grass, which are afterward 
made up by the Chhaparbands and others into door-screens, 
and through being continually watered cool the hot air which 
passes through them. The roots of this wild grass, which 
grows in most abundance on the outskirts of forests or near 
the banks of rivers, are dug out of the earth by an instru- 
ment called kJiunti. This has a handle three feet long, and 
a blade about a foot long resembling that of a knife. The 
same implement serves as a dagger or short spear for 
killing wolves or jackals, as a tool for carving a secret 
entrance through the clay wall of a villager's hut in which 
a burglary is meditated, as a spade or hoe for digging 

1 It is not, I think, used for weaving that the brushes are made from the 
now, but only for stuffing quilts and khas-khas grass, and this is, I think, the 
cushions. case in the Central Provinces. 

2 But elsewhere Mr. Nesfield says 

34 2 KAPE WAR part 

snakes, field-rats, and lizards out of their holes, and edible 
roots out of the earth, and as a hatchet for chopping wood." 

Kapewar, 1 Munurwar. — A great cultivating caste of 
the Telugu country, where they are known as Kapu or Reddi, 
and correspond to the Kurmi in Hindustan and the Kunbi 
in the Maratha Districts. In the Central Provinces about 
18,000 persons of the caste were enumerated in the Chanda 
District and Berar in 191 1. The term Kapu means a 
watchman, and Reddi is considered to be a corruption of 
Rathor or Rashtrakuta, meaning a king, or more properly 
the headman of a village. Kapewar is simply the plural 
form of Kapu, and Munurwar, in reality the name of a 
subcaste of Kapewars, is used as a synonym for the main 
caste in Chanda. They are divided into various occupational 
subcastes, as the Upparwars or earth-diggers, from uppar, 
earth ; the Gone, who make gonas or hemp gunny-bags ; 
the Elmas, who are household servants ; the Gollewars, who 
sell milk ; and the Gamadis or masons. The Kunte or lame 
Kapewars, the lowest group, say that their ancestor was 
born lame ; they are also called Bhiksha Kunte or lame 
besrears and serve as the bards of the caste besides 
begging from them. They are considered to be of 
illegitimate origin. No detailed account of the caste 
need be given here, but one or two interesting customs 
reported from Chanda may be noted. Girls must be 
married before they are ten years old, and in default of 
this the parents are temporarily put out of caste and have 
to pay a penalty for readmission. But if they take the girl 
to some sacred place on the Godavari river and marry her 
there the penalty is avoided. Contrary to the usual custom 
the bride goes to the bridegroom's house to be married. On 
the fourth night of the marriage ceremony the bridegroom 
takes with him all the parts of a plough as if he was going 
out to the field, and walks up the marriage-shed to the further 
end followed by the bride, who carries on her head some 
cooked food tied up in a cloth. The skirts of the couple 
are knotted together. On reaching the end of the shed the 

1 This article is compiled principally from a note by Mr. Paiku, Inspector of 
Police, Chanda. 

n KARAN 343 

bridegroom makes five drills in the ground with a bullock- 
goad and sows cotton and juari seeds mixed together. Then 
the cooked food is eaten by all who are present, the bridal 
couple commencing first, and the seed is irrigated by washing 
their hands over it. This performance is a symbolical 
portrayal of the future life of the couple, which will be spent 
in cultivation. In Chanda a number of Kapewars are stone- 
masons, and are considered the most proficient workers at 
this trade in the locality. Major Lucie Smith, the author 
of the Chanda Settlement Report of 1 869, thought that 
the ancestors of the caste had been originally brought to 
Chanda to build the fine walls with ramparts and bastions 
which stretch for a length of six or seven miles round the 
town. The caste are sometimes known as Telugu Kunbis. 
Men may be distinguished by the single dot which is 
always tattooed on the forehead during their infancy. Men 
of the Gowari caste have a similar mark. 

Karan, 1 Karnam, Mahanti. — The indigenous writer caste 
of Orissa. In 1901 a total of 5000 Karans were enumer- 
ated in Sambalpur and the Uriya States, but the bulk of 
these have since passed under the jurisdiction of Bihar and 
Orissa, and only about 1000 remain in the Central Provinces. 
The total numbers of the caste in India exceed a quarter of 
a million. The poet Kalidas in his Raghuvansa describes 
Karans as the offspring of a Vaishya father and a Sudra 
mother. The caste fulfils the same functions in Orissa as 
the Kayasths elsewhere, and it is said that their original 
ancestors were brought from northern India by Yayati 
Kesari, king of Orissa (a.D. 447-526), to supply the demand 
for writers and clerks. The original of the word Karan is 
said to be the Hindi kardni, kirdn, which Wilson derives from 
Sanskrit karan, ' a doer.' The word kardni was at one time 
applied by natives to the junior members of the Civil 
Service — ' Writers,' as they were designated. And the 
' Writers' Buildings ' of Calcutta were known as kardni ki- 
barik. From this term a corruption ' Cranny ' came into 
use, and was applied in Bengal to a clerk writing English, 

1 This article is based principally on a paper by Nand Kishore, Bohidar, 

344 KARAN part 

and thence to the East Indians or half-castes from whom 
English copyists were subsequently recruited.! The derivation 
of Mahanti is obscure, unless it be from maha, great, or from 
Mahant, the head of a monastery. The caste prefer the name 
of Karan, because that of Mahanti is often appropriated by 
affluent Chasas and others who wish to get a rise in rank. 
In fact a proverb says : Jar nahin Jati, tdku bolanti Mahanti, 
or ' He who has no caste calls himself a Mahanti.' The 
Karans, like the Kayasths, claim Chitragupta as their first 
ancestor, but most of them repudiate any connection with the 
Kayasths, though they are of the same calling. The Karans 
of Sambalpur have two subcastes, the Jhadua or those of the 
jhadi or jungle and the Utkali or Uriyas. The former are 
said to be the earlier immigrants and are looked down on by 
the latter, who do not intermarry with them. Their exoga- 
mous divisions or gotras are of the type called eponymous, 
being named after well-known Rishis or saints like those of 
the Brahmans. Instances of such names are Bharadwaj, 
Parasar, Valmik and Vasishtha. Some of the names, however, 
are in a manner totemistic, as Nagas, the cobra ; Kounchhas, 
the tortoise ; Bachas, a calf, and so on. These animals are 
revered by the members of the gotra named after them, but 
as they are of semi-divine nature, the practice may be dis- 
tinguished from true totemism. In some cases, however, 
members of the Bharadwaj gotra venerate the blue-jay, and 
of the Parasar gotra, a pigeon. Marriage is regulated 
according to the table of prohibited degrees in vogue among 
the higher castes. Girls are commonly married before they 
are ten years old, but no penalty attaches to the postpone- 
ment of the ceremony to a later age. The binding portion 
of the marriage is Hastabandhan or the tying of the hands 
of the couple together with kusha grass, 2 and when this has 
been done the marriage cannot be annulled. The bride 
goes to her husband's house for a few days and then returns 
home until she attains maturity. Divorce and remarriage 
of widows are prohibited, and an unfaithful wife is finally 
expelled from the caste. The Karans worship the usual 
Hindu gods and call themselves Smarths. Some belong to 
the local Parmarth and Kumbhipatia sects, the former of 

1 Hobson-Jobson, art. Cranny. 2 Eragrostis cynosuroides. 



which practises obscene rites. They burn their dead, except- 
ing the bodies of infants, and perform the shrdddh ceremony. 
The caste have a high social position in Sambalpur, and 
Brahmans will sometimes take food cooked without water 
from them. They wear the sacred thread. They eat fish 
and the flesh of clean animals but do not drink liquor. 
Bhandaris or barbers will take katclia food from a Karan. 
They are generally engaged in service as clerks, accountants, 
schoolmasters or patwaris. Their usual titles are Patnaik 
or Bohidar. The Karans are considered to be of extra- 
vagant habits, and one proverb about them is — 

Mahattti jati, itdhar paile kinanti Jiathi, 

or, ' The Mahanti if he can get a loan will at once buy 
an elephant.' Their shrewdness in business transactions 
and tendency to overreach the less intelligent cultivating 
castes have made them unpopular like the Kayasths, and 
another proverb says — 

Patarkata, Tankarkata, Paniota, Gaudini mat 
E chari jati kit vishwas naz, 

or, ' Trust not the palm-leaf writer (Karan), the weaver, 
the liquor-distiller nor the milk-seller.' 



1. Genera! notice of the caste. 12. Taking food together and hos- 

2. The cattle -slaughtering in- pitality. 

dustry. 1 3. Tlie Roman sacra. 

3. Muhammadan rite of zibah x 4. The Hindu caste-feasts. 

or JialCil. 1 5 . Sacrifice of the camel. 

4. Animism. 16. The joint sacrifice. 

5. Animal-gods. The domestic 17 • Animal sacrifices in Greece. 

animals. 1 8. The Passover. 

6. Other animals. 1 9- Sanctity of domestic animals. 

7. Animals worshipped in India. ' . , ~ , ' 

21. Animal-fights. 

8. I he sacrificial meal. ^, .,- . , , 7 , r 

^ 11. Ihe sacrificial method of 

9. Primitive basis of kinship. killing' 

10. The bond of food. 23. Animal sacrifices in Indian 

1 1. 77zd? blood-feud. ritual. 

Kasai, Kassab. — The caste of Muhammadan butchers, of 
whom about 4000 persons were returned from the Central 
Provinces and Berar in 191 1. During the last decade the 
numbers of the caste have very greatly increased owing to 
the rise of the cattle-slaughtering industry. Two kinds of 
Kasais may be distinguished, the Gai Kasai or cow-killers 
and the Bakar Kasai or mutton butchers. The latter, how- 
ever, are usually (Hindus and have been formed into a 
separate caste, being known as Khatlk. Like other Muham- 
madans who have adopted professions of a not too reputable 
nature, the Kasais have become a caste, partly because the 
ordinary Muhammadan declines to intermarry with them, 
and partly no doubt in imitation of the Hindu social system. 
The Kasais are one of the lowest of the Muhammadan 
castes, and will admit into their community even low-caste 
Hindu converts. They celebrate their weddings by the 
nikah form, but until recently many Hindu rites were added 



to it. The Kazi is employed to conduct the marriage, but 
if his services are not available a member of the caste may 
officiate instead. Polygamy is permitted to the number of 
four wives. A man may divorce his wife simply for dis- 
obedience, but if a woman wishes to divorce her husband 
she must forego the Meher or dowry promised at the time 
of the wedding. The Kasai women, perhaps owing to their 
meat diet, are noticeably strong and well nourished, and 
there is a saying to the effect that, ' The butcher's daughter 
will bear children when she is ten years old.' The deities 
of the Kasais are a number of Muhammadan saints, who 
are known as Aulia or Favourites of God. The caste bury 
the dead, and on the third day they read the Kalma over 
some parched grain and distribute this to the caste-fellows, 
who eat it in the name of the deceased man, invoking a 
blessing upon him. On the ninth day after the death they 
distribute food to Muhammadan Fakirs or beggars, and on 
the twentieth and fortieth days two more -feasts are given 
to the caste and a third on the anniversary of the death. 
Owing to what is considered the degrading nature of his 
occupation, the social position of the Kasai is very low, and 
there is a saying — 

Na dekha ho bagh, to dekh belaij 
Na dekha ho Thag, to dekh Kasai) 

or, ' If you have not seen a tiger, look at a cat ; and if you 

have not seen a Thug, look at a butcher.' Many Hindus 

have a superstition that leprosy is developed by the continual 

eating of beef. 

In recent years an extensive industry in the slaughter of 2. The 

cattle has sprung up all over the Province. Worn-out c f ttle ; 

r 11 slaughter- 

animals are now eagerly bought up and killed ; their hides ing 

are dried and exported, and the meat is cured and sent to llKlustl T- 

Madras and Burma, a substantial profit being obtained from 

its sale. The blood, horns and hoofs are other products 

which yield a return. The religious scruples of the Hindus 

have given way to the temptation of obtaining what is to 

them a substantial sum for a valueless animal, and, with the 

exception perhaps of Brahmans and Banias, all castes now 

dispose of their useless cattle to the butchers. At first this 

348 KASAI tart 

was done by stealth, and efforts were made to impose severe 
penalties on anybody guilty of the crime of being accessory 
to the death of the sacred kine, while it is said that the 
emissaries of the butchers were sent to the markets disguised 
as Brahmans or religious mendicants, and pretended that 
they wished to buy cattle in order to preserve their lives as 
a meritorious act. But such attempts at restriction have 
generally proved fruitless, and the trade is now openly prac- 
tised and acquiesced in by public opinion. In spite of many 
complaints of the shortage of plough cattle caused by the 
large numbers of animals slaughtered, the results of this 
traffic are probably almost wholly advantageous ; for the 
villages no longer contain a horde of worn-out and decrepit 
animals to deprive the valuable plough and milch cattle of 
a share of the too scanty pasturage. Kasais themselves are 
generally prosperous. 
3. Muham- When killing an animal the butcher lays it on the ground 

S«S/ lte with its feet to the west and head stretched towards the 
or Midi, north and then cuts its throat saying : 

In the name of God ; 
God is great. 

This method of killing an animal is known as zibali. 
The Muhammadan belief that an animal is not fit for food 
unless its throat has been cut so that the blood flows on to 
the ground is thus explained in Professor Robertson Smith's 
Religion of the Semites 1 : " In heathen Canaan all the animals 
belonged to the god of the country ; but it was lawful to 
kill them if payment was made to the god by pouring out 
their life or blood on the ground." The Arabs are of the 
same Semitic stock, and this may be partly the underlying 
idea of their rite of zibah. It seems doubtful, however, 
whether the explanation suffices to explain its continuance 
for so long a period among the Muhammadans who have 
long ceased to reverence any earth-deity, and in a foreign 
country where the soil cannot be sacred to them ; and a 
short summary of Dr. Robertson Smith's luminous explana- 
tion of the underlying principle of animal sacrifice in early 
times seems requisite to its full understanding. 
1 (London, A. & C. Black.) 

ii ANIMISM 349 

Primitive man did not recognise any difference of in- 4- Anim- 
telligence and self- consciousness between himself and the lb 
lower animals and even plants, but believed them all to be 
possessed of consciousness and volition as he was. He 
knew of no natural laws of the constitution of matter and 
the action of forces, and therefore thought that all natural 
phenomena, the sun, moon and stars, the wind and rain, 
were similarly appearances, manifestations or acts of volition 
of beings conscious like himself. This is what is meant by 
animism. Among several races the community was divided 
into totem-clans, and each clan held sacred some animal or 
bird, which was considered as a kinsman. All the members 
of the clan were kin to each other through the tie formed 
by their eating their totem animal, which in the hunting 
stage was probably their chief means of subsistence, and 
from which they consequently thought that they derived 
their common life. 1 In process of time the animals which 
were domesticated, such as the horse, the sheep, the cow 
and the camel, acquired a special sanctity, and became, in 
fact, the principal deities of the community, such as the 
calf-god Apis, the cow-goddess Isis-Hathor, and the ram- 
god Amen in Egypt, Hera, probably a cow-goddess, and 
Dionysus, who may be the deified bull or goat (or a com- 
bination of them) in Greece, and so on. 

It is easy to see how these domestic animals would 5. Animal- 
overshadow all others in importance when the tribe had s ° ds ~ , rhe 

r domestic 

arrived at the pastoral or agricultural stage ; thus in the animals, 
former the camel, horse, goat or sheep, and in the latter 
pre-eminently the bull and cow, as the animals which 
afforded subsistence to the whole tribe, would become their 

1 This definition of totemism is more the clan come to think that they are 

or less in accord with that held by the descended from their totem animal and 

late Professor Robertson Smith, but is that the spirits of their ancestors pass 

not generally accepted. The exhaustive into the totem animal. When this 

collection of totemic beliefs and customs belief arises, they cease eating the 

contained in Sir J. G. Frazer's Totem- totem as a mark of veneration and 

ism and Exogamy affords, however, respect, and abstain from killing or 

substantial evidence in favour of it injuring it. Finally the totem comes 

among tribes still in the hunting stage to be little more than a clan-name or 

in Australia, North America and Africa. family name, which serves the purpose 

The Indian form of totemism is, in the of preventing marriage between persons 

writer's opinion, a later one, arising related through males, who Relieve 

when the totem animal has ceased to themselves to be descended from a 

be the main source of life, and when common ancestor. 



greatest gods. It must be presumed that men forgot that 
their ancestors had tamed these animals, and looked on 
them as divine helpers who of their own free will had come 
to give mankind their aid in gaining a subsistence. Those 
who have observed the reverence paid to the cow and bull 
in India will have no difficulty in realising this point of 
view. Many other instances can be obtained. Thus in 
the Vedic religion of the Aryans the Ashvins, from ashva, 
a horse, were the divine horsemen of the dawn or of the 
sun. The principal sacrifice was that of the horse, con- 
sidered, perhaps, as the representative of the sun or carrier 
of celestial fire. In a hymn the horse is said to be sprung 
from the gods. In Greece Phaethon was the charioteer of 
the horses of the sun. Mars, as the Roman god of war, 
may perhaps have been the deified horse, as suggested later. 
The chieftains of the Anglo-Saxon invaders of England, 
Hengist and Horsa, were held to be descended from the 
god Odin, to whom horses were sacrificed ; Hengist means 
a stallion and Horsa a horse, the word having survived in 
modern English. Other mythical kings in Bede's chronicle 
have names derived from that of the horse (vicg.)} The 
camel does not seem to have become an anthropomorphic 
god, but the Arabs venerated it and refrained from killing 
it except as a sacrifice, when it was offered to the Morning- 
Star and partaken of sacramentally by the worshippers as 
will be seen subsequently. The ox as the tiller of the 
ground, with the cow as milk-giver and mother of the ox, 
are especially venerated by races in the early agricultural 
stage. Egyptian and Greek instances have already been 
given. In modern Egypt, as in India, bulls are let loose 
and held sacred. " Sometimes a peasant vows that he will 
sacrifice, for the sake of a saint, a calf which he possesses, 
as soon as it is full grown and fatted. It is let loose, by 
consent of all his neighbours, to pasture where it will, even 
in fields of young wheat ; and at last, after it has been 
sacrificed, a public feast is made with its meat. Many a 
large bull is thus given away." 2 Dionysus Zagreus was a 
young bull devoured by the Titans, whom Zeus raised again 

1 Orpheus (Heinemann), p. 197. 
2 Lane, Modern Egyptians, p. 248. 

ii • ANIMAL-GODS 351 

to a glorious life. 1 The Babylonians had a bull-god, Ninit. 2 
Brazen images of bulls were placed in Babylonian temples. 
The Parsis hold the bull sacred, and a child is made to 
drink a bull's urine as a rite of purification. After a funeral 
the mourners free themselves from the impurity caused by 
contact with the dead in a similar manner. 3 The mono- 
theistic religion of Persia, Mitraism, which was an outcome 
of the faith of Zoroaster, and being introduced 'by the 
Emperors Commodus and Julian into the Roman world 
contended for some time with Christianity, was apparently 
sun-worship, Mitra being the sun-god of the ancient Aryans 
and Iranians ; M. Reinach says : " Mitra is born from a 
rock ; he makes water flow from the rock by striking it 
with an arrow, makes an alliance with the sun, and enters 
into a struggle with a bull, whom he conquers and sacrifices. 
The sacrifice of the bull appears to indicate that the worship 
of Mitra in its most ancient form was that of a sacred bull, 
conjoined to or representing the sun, which was sacrificed 
as a god, and its flesh and blood eaten in a sacrificial meal. 
Mitra, the slayer of the bull, figures in a double role as 
one finds in all the religions which have passed from 
totemism to anthropomorphism." 4 In Scandinavia the god 
Odin and his brothers were the grandsons of a divine cow, 
born from the melting ice in the region of snow and dark- 
ness. 5 In Rome a white bull was sacrificed to the Feriae 
Latinae, apparently the spirit of the Latin holy days, and 
distributed among all the towns of Latium. 6 Altars of the 
ancient Celts or Gauls have been found in France carved 
with the image of a bull. 7 In Palestine there is the familiar 
instance of the golden calf. In the open court of Solomon's 
temple stood the brazen sea on twelve oxen, and figures of 
lions, oxen and cherubim covered the portable tanks. 8 The 
veneration of the bull survived into Christian England in 
the Middle Ages. " At St. Edmundsbury a white bull, 
which enjoyed full ease and plenty in the fields, and was 
never yoked to the plough nor employed in any service, was 

1 Orphhis, p. 47. 5 Ibidem, p. 204. 

2 Ibidem, p. 50. ° Ibidem, p. 144. 
s E.G. Parsis of Gujarat, pp. 232, 7 Ibidem, p. 169. 

241. 8 D. M. Flinders- Petrie, Egypt and 

4 Orpheus, pp. 1 01, 102. Israel, p. 61. 



led in procession in the chief streets of the town to the 
principal gate of the monastery, attended by all the monks 
singing and a shouting crowd. 1 " Such remedies as cowdung 
and cow's urine have been used on the continent of Europe 
by peasant physicians down to our times " ; 2 and the belief 
in their efficacy must apparently have arisen from the 
sanctity attaching to the animal. In India Siva rides upon 
the bull'' Nandi, and when the Kunbis were too weak from 
famine to plough the fields, he had Nandi castrated and 
harnessed to the plough, thus teaching them to use oxen 
for ploughing ; the image of Nandi is always carved in 
stone in front of Siva, and there seems little reason to doubt 
that in his beneficent aspect of Mahadeo the god was 
originally the deified bull. Bulls were let loose in his 
honour and allowed to graze where they would, and formerly 
a good Hindu would not even sell a bull, though this rule 
has fallen into abeyance. The sacred cow, Kamdhenu, was 
the giver of all wealth in Hindu mythology, and Lakshmi, 
the goddess of wealth, is considered to have been the deified 
cow. Hindus are purified from grave offences by drinking 
the five products of the sacred cow, milk, curds, butter, 
dung and urine ; and the floors of Hindu houses are daily 
plastered with cowdung to the same end. 

Of the exaltation of minor animals into anthropomorphic 
gods and goddesses only a few instances need be given. 
As is shown by Sir J. G. Frazer, Demeter and Proserpine 
probably both represent the deified pig. 3 " The Greek drama 
has arisen from the celebrations of Dionysus. In the 
beginning the people sacrificed a goat totem-god, that is 
to say, Dionysus himself ; they wept for his death and then 
celebrated his resurrection with transports of joy." 4 And 
again M. Reinach states : " There are more than mere vestiges 
of totemism in ancient Greece. We may take first the 
attendant animals of the gods, the eagle of Zeus, the owl of 
Athena, the fawn of Artemis, the dolphin of Poseidon, the 
dove of Aphrodite and so on ; the sacred animal can develop 
into the companion of the god, but also into his enemy or 

1 Gomme, Folk-lore as a Historical 3 Golden Bough, ii. pp. 299-301. 
Science, p. 161. See article on Kumhar. 

2 Haug's Essays on the Parsis, p. 

286. 4 Orpheus, p. 139. 


victim ; thus Apollo Sauroctonos is, as the epithet shows, a 
killer of lizards ; but in the beginning it was the lizard itself 
which was divine. We have seen that the boar before 
becoming the slayer of Adonis had been Adonis himself." l 

In early Rome "The wolf was the animal most venerated. 
Its association with Mars, as the sacrifice most pleasing to 
him, leaves no doubt as to the primitive nature of the god. 
It was a wolf which acted as guide to the Samnites in their 
search for a place to settle in, and these Samnites called 
themselves Hirpi or Hirpini, that is to say, wolves. Romulus 
and Remus, sons of the wolf Mars and the she-wolf Silvia 
(the forest-dweller), are suckled by a she-wolf." 2 It seems 
possible that Mars as the deified wolf was at first an agri- 
cultural deity, the wolf being worshipped by the shepherd 
and farmer because he was their principal enemy, as the 
sambhar stag and the wild buffalo are similarly venerated 
by Indian cultivators. At a later period, in becoming the 
god of war, he may have represented the deified horse as 
well. Races of war-horses were held at his festivals on 
14th March and 27th February, and a great race on the 
Ides of October when the winner was solemnly slain. 3 " In 
Egypt the baboon was regarded as the emblem of Tahuti, 
the god of wisdom ; the serious expression and human ways 
of the large baboons are an obvious cause for their being 
regarded as the wisest of animals. Tahuti is represented 
as a baboon from the earliest dynasty down to late times ; 
and four baboons were sacred in his temple at Heliopolis." 4 
" The hippopotamus was the goddess Ta-urt, ' the great one,' 
the patroness of pregnancy, who is never shown in any 
other form. Rarely this animal appears as the emblem df 
the god Set. The jackal haunted the cemeteries on the 
edge of the desert, and so came to be taken as the guardian 
of the dead and identified with Anubis, the god of departing 
souls. The vulture was the emblem of maternity as being 
supposed to care especially for her young. Hence she is 
identified with Mut, the mother-goddess of Thebes. The 
cobra serpent was sacred from the earliest times to the 

1 Orphhis, pp. 119, 120. 4 Religions, Ancient and Modern, 

2 Ibidem, p. 144. Ancient Egypt, Professor Flinders- 

3 Religions, Ancient and Modern, Petrie, p. 22. 
Ancient Rome, Cyril Bailey, p. 86. 

VOL. Ill 2 A 



present day. It was never identified with any of the great 
deities, but three goddesses appear in serpent form." ] 

7 . Animals Finally, in India we have Hanuman, originally the 
worshipped deified ape, about whose identity there can be no doubt as 

he still retains his monkey's tail in all sculpture. Bhairon, 
the watchman of Mahadeo's temples, rides on a black dog, 
and was perhaps originally the watch-dog, or in his more 
terrible character of the devourer of human beings, the wolf. 
Ganesh or Ganpati has the head of an elephant and rides 
on a rat and appears to have derived his divine attributes 
from both these animals, as will be explained elsewhere ; 2 
Kartikeya, the god of war, rides on a peacock, and as the 
peacock is sacred, he may originally have been that bird, 
perhaps because its plumes were a favourite war emblem. 
Among his epithets are Sarabhu, born in the thicket, Dwada- 
sakara and Dwadasaksha, twelve-handed and twelve-eyed. 
He was fostered by the maidens who make the Pleiades, and 
his epithet of twelve-eyed may be taken from the eyes in the 
peacock's feathers. 3 But, like the Greek gods, the Hindu 
gods have now long become anthropomorphic, and only 
vestiges remain of their animal associations. Enough has 
been said to show that most of the pantheons are largely 
occupied by deified animals and birds. 

8. The The original sacrifice was that in which the community 
sacrificial Q f kj nsmen a t e together the flesh of their divine or totem 

meal. ° 

animal-god and drank its blood. In early religion the tribal 
god was the ancestor and relative of the tribe. He protected 
and fostered the tribe in its public concerns, but took no 
special care of individuals ; the only offences of which he 
took cognisance were those against the tribe as a whole, 
such as shedding a kinsman's blood. At periodical intervals 
the tribe renewed their kinship with the god and each other 
by eating his flesh together at a sacrificial meal by which 
they acquired his divine attributes ; and every tribesman 
was not only invited, but bound, to participate. " According 
to antique ideas those who eat and drink together are by 
this very act tied to one another by a bond of friendship 

1 Religions, Ancient and Modern, 2 Vide article on Bania. 

Ancient Egypt, Professor Flinders- 3 Dowson's and Garrett's Classical 

Petrie, pp. 24, 26. Dictionaries, art. Kartikeya. 


and mutual obligation. Hence when we find that in ancient 
religions all the ordinary functions of worship are summed 
up in the sacrificial meal, and that the ordinary intercourse 
between gods and men has no other form, we are to 
remember that the act of eating and drinking together is 
the solemn and stated expression of the fact that all who 
share the meal are brethren, and that the duties of friend- 
ship and brotherhood are implicitly acknowledged in their 
common act. 1 The one thing directly expressed in the 
sacrificial meal is that the god and his worshippers are 
commensals, but every other point in their mutual relations 
is included in what this involves. Those who sit at meat 
together are united for all social effects ; those who do not 
eat together are aliens to one another, without fellowship 
in religion and without reciprocal social duties. The extent 
to which this view prevailed among the ancient Semites, and 
still prevails among the Arabs, may be brought out most 
clearly by reference to the law of hospitality. Among the 
Arabs every stranger whom one meets in the desert is a 
natural enemy, and has no protection against violence except 
his own strong hand or the fear that his tribe will avenge 
him if his blood be spilt. But if I have eaten the smallest 
morsel of food with a man I have nothing further to fear 
from him ; ' there is salt between us,' and he is bound not 
only to do me no harm, but to help and defend me as if I 
were his brother. So far was this principle carried by the 
old Arabs that Zaid-al-Khail, a famous warrior in the days 
of Muhammad, refused to slay a vagabond who carried off 
his camels, because the thief had surreptitiously drunk from 
his father's milk-bowl before committing the theft." 2 It is 
in this idea that the feeling of hospitality originally arose. 
Those who ate together the sacred food consisting of the 
body of the god were brothers, and bound to assist each 
other and do each other no harm ; and the obligation 
extended in a modified form to all food partaken of together, 
more especially as with some races, as the ancient Romans 
and the Hindus, all the regular household meals are sacred ; 
they may only be partaken of after purifying the body, and 
a portion of the food at each meal is offered to the gods. 

1 Religion of the Semites, p. 265. 2 Ibidem, pp. 269, 270. 

of kinship. 

356 KASAI part 

" There was a sworn alliance between the Lihyan and the 
Mostalic — they were wont to eat and drink together. This 
phrase of an Arab narratpr supplies exactly what is wanted 
to define the significance of the sacrificial meal. The god 
and his worshippers are wont to eat and drink together, 
and by this token their fellowship is declared and sealed." : 
9 . Primi- The primitive idea of kinship rested on this participation 

tive basis j n t i ie sacrificial meal, and not on blood-relationship. "In 
ancient times the fundamental obligations of kinship had 
nothing to do with degrees of relationship, but rested with 
absolute and identical force or every member of the clan. 
To know that a man's life was sacred to me and that every 
blood-feud that touched him involved me also, it was not 
necessary for me to count cousinship with him by reckoning 
up to our common ancestor ; it was enough that we belonged 
to the same clan and bore the same clan-name. What was 
my clan was determined by customary law, which was not 
the same in all stages of society ; in the earliest Semitic 
communities a man was of his mother's clan, in later times 
he belonged to the clan of his father. But the essential idea 
of kinship was independent of the particular form of the 
law. A kin was a group of persons whose lives were so 
bound up together, in what must be called a physical unity, 
that they could be treated as parts of one common life. The 
members of one kindred looked on themselves as one living 
whole, a single animated mass of blood, flesh, and bones, of 
which no member could be touched without all the members 
suffering. This point of view is expressed in the Semitic 
tongues in many familiar forms of speech. In case of 
homicide Arabian tribesmen do not say, ' The blood of M or 
N has been spilt,' naming the man ; they say, ' Our blood 
has been spilt.' In Hebrew the phrase by which one claims 
kinship is, ' I am your bone and your flesh.' Both in 
Hebrew and in Arabic ' flesh ' is synonymous with ' clan ' 
or kindred group." 2 Similarly in India a Hindu speaks of 
any member of his subcaste or clan as his bhai or brother. 

" Indeed, in a religion based on kinship, where the god 
and his worshippers are of one stock, the principle of sanctity 

1 Religion of the Semites, pp. 270, 271. 
2 Ibidem, pp. 273, 274. 


and that of kinship are identical. The sanctity of a 
kinsman's life and the sanctity of the godhead are not two 
things but one ; for ultimately the only thing which is 
sacred is the common tribal life or the common blood which 
is identified with the life. Whatever being partakes in this 
life is holy, and its holiness may be described indifferently 
as participation in the divine life and nature, or as participa- 
tion in the kindred blood." 1 

" At a later period the conception is found current that 10. The 
any food which two men partake of together, so that the ^°°? of 
same substance enters into their flesh and blood, is enough 
to establish some sacred unity of life between them ; but in 
ancient times this significance seems to be always attached 
to participation in the flesh of a sacrosanct victim, and the 
solemn mystery of its death is justified by the consideration 
that only in this way can the sacred cement be procured 
which creates or keeps alive a living bond of union between 
the worshippers and their god. This cement is nothing less 
than the actual life of the sacred and kindred animal, which 
is conceived as residing in its flesh, but especially in its 
blood, and so, in the sacred meal, is actually distributed 
among all the participants, each of whom incorporated a 
particle of it with his own individual life." 2 

It thus appears that the sacrifice of the divine animal u. The 
which was the god of the tribe or clan, and the eating of its blood - feud - 
flesh and drinking of its blood together, was the only tangible 
bond or obligation on which such law and morality as existed 
in primitive society was based. Those who participated in 
this sacrifice were brothers and forbidden to shed each other's 
blood, because in so doing they would have spilt the blood 
of the god impiously and unlawfully ; the only lawful occasion 
on which it could be shed being by participation of all the 
clan or kinsmen in the sacrificial meal. All other persons 
outside the clan were strangers or enemies, and no rights 
or obligations existed in connection with them ; the only 
restraint on killing them being the fear that their kinsmen 
would take blood-revenge, not solely on the murderer, but 
on any member of his clan. A man's life was protected 
only by this readiness of his clansmen to avenge him ; if he 

1 Religion of the Semites, p. 289. - Ibidem, p. 313. 

358 KASAI part 

slew a fellow-kinsman, thus shedding the blood of the god 
which flowed in the veins of every member, or committed 
an)' other great impiety against the god, he was outlawed, 
and henceforth there was no protection for his life except 
such as he could afford himself by his own strength. This 
reflection puts the importance of the blood-feud in primitive 
society in a clear light. It was at that time really a bene- 
ficent institution, being the only protection for human life ; 
and its survival among such backward races as the Pathans 
and Corsicans, long after the State has undertaken the pro- 
tection and avenging of life and the blood-feud has become 
almost wholly useless and evil, is more easily understood. 

12. Taking The original idea of the sacrificial meal was that the 
food to- kinsmen in concert partook of the body of the god, thereby 

gether and l . i 

hospitality, renewing their kinship with him and with each other. By 
analogy, however, the tie thus formed was extended to the 
whole practice of eating together. It has been seen how a 
stranger who partook of food with an Arab became sacred 
and as a kinsman to his host and all the latter's clan for 
such time as any part of the food might remain in his system, 
a period which was conventionally taken as about three days. 
" The Old Testament records many cases where a covenant 
was sealed by the parties eating and drinking together. In 
most of these the meal is sacrificial, and the deity is taken 
in as a third party to the covenant. But in Joshua i. 14 
the Israelites enter into alliance with the Gibeonites by tak- 
ing of their victuals without consulting Jehovah. A formal 
league confirmed by an oath follows, but by accepting the 
proffered food the Israelites are already committed to the 
alliance." 1 From the belief in the strength and sanctity 
of the tie formed by eating together the obligation of 
hospitality appears to be derived. And this is one of the 
few moral ideas which are more binding in primitive than in 
civilised society. 

13. The " A good example of the clan sacrifice, in which a whole 

kinship periodically joins, is afforded by the Roman sacra 
gentilicia. As in primitive society no man can belong to 
more than one kindred, so among the Romans no one could 
share in the sacra of two gcntes — to do so was to confound 

1 Religion of the Semites, p. 271. 


the ritual and contaminate the purity of the gens. The sacra 
consisted in common anniversary sacrifices, in which the clans- 
men honoured the gods of the clan, and after them the whole 
kin, living and dead, were brought together in the service." ' 

The intense importance thus attached to eating in I4 . The 
common on ceremonial occasions has a very familiar ring to Hindu 

... T . . caste- 

ar.y one possessing some acquaintance with the Indian caste- feasts, 
system. The resemblance of the gotra or clan and the sub- 
caste to the Greek phratry and pliule and the Roman gens 
aid curia or tribe has been pointed out by M. Emile Senart 
ii Les Castes dans Vlnde. The origin of the subcaste or 
group, whose members eat together and intermarry, cannot 
oe discussed here. But it seems probable that the real bond 
vhich unites it is the capacity of its members to join in the 
ceremonial feasts at marriages, funerals, and the readmission 
of members temporarily excluded, which are of a type closely 
esembling and seemingly derived from the sacrificial meal. 
3efore a wedding the ancestors of the family are formally 
hvited, and when the wedding-cakes are made they are 
offered to the ancestors and then partaken of by all rela- 
ives of the family as in the Roman sacra. In this case grain 
vould take the place of flesh as the sacrificial food among 
1 people who no longer eat the flesh of animals. Thus Sir 
[. G. Frazer states : " At the close of the rice harvest in the 
East Indian island of Buro each clan (fenna) meets at a 
common sacramental meal, to which every member of the clan 
is bound to contribute a little of the new rice. This meal is 
called ' eating the soul of the rice,' a name which clearly 
indicates the sacramental character of the repast. Some of 
the rice is also set apart and offered to the spirits." '' Grain 
cooked with water is sacred food among the Hindus. The 
bride and bridegroom worship Gauri, perhaps a corn-goddess, 
and her son Ganesh, the god of prosperity and full granaries. 
It has been suggested that yellow is the propitious Hindu 
colour for weddings, because it is the colour of the corn. 3 
At the wedding feast all the guests sit knee to knee touch- 
ing each other as a sign of their brotherhood. Sometimes 
the bride eats with the men in token of her inclusion in the 

1 Religion of the Semites, p. 275. 2 Golden Bough, ii. p. 321. 

3 Vide art. Kumhar. 


brotherhood. In most castes the feast cannot begin until 
all the guests have come, and every member of the subcaste 
who is not under the ban of exclusion must be invited. V. 
any considerable number of the guests wilfully abstain from 
attending it is an insult to the host and an implication tint 
his own position is doubtful. Other points of resemblance 
between the caste feast and the sacrificial meal will be dis- 
cussed elsewhere. 
15. Sacri- The sacrifice of the camel in Arabia, about the period of 

camel tne fourth century, is thus described : " The camel chosen as 

the victim is bound upon a rude altar of stones piled togethc, 
and when the leader of the band has thrice led the wor- 
shippers round the altar in a solemn procession accompanied 
with chants, he inflicts the first wound while the last words 
of the hymn are still upon the lips of the congregation, anc 
in all haste drinks of the blood that gushes forth. Forth 
with the whole company fall on the victim with their swords 
hacking off pieces of the quivering flesh and devouring then 
raw, with such wild haste that in the short interval betweer 
the rise of the day-star, which marked the hour for the 
service to begin, and the disappearance of its rays before 
the rising sun, the entire camel, body and bones, skin, blood 
and entrails, is wholly devoured." 1 

In this case the camel was offered as a sacrifice tc 
Venus or the Morning Star, and it had to be devoured while 
the star was visible. But it is clear that the camel itself 
had been originally revered, because except for the sacrifice 
it was unlawful for the Arabs to kill the camel otherwise 
than as a last resort to save themselves from starvation. 
" The ordinary sustenance of the Saracens was derived from 
pillage or from hunting and from the milk of their herds. 
Only when these supplies failed they fell back on the flesh 
of their camels, one of which was slain for each clan or for 
each group which habitually pitched their tents together — 
always a fraction of a clan — and the flesh was hastily de- 
voured by the kinsmen in dog-like fashion, half raw and 
merely softened over the fire." 2 In Bhopal it is stated that 
a camel is still sacrificed annually in perpetuation of the 
ancient rite. Hindus who keep camels revere them like 
1 Religion of the Semites, p. 338. 2 Ibidem, p. 281. 


other domestic animals. When one of my tent-camels had 
broken its leg by a fall and had to be killed, I asked the 
camelman, to whom the animal belonged, to shoot it ; but he 
positively refused, saying, ' How shall I kill him who gives 
me my bread ' ; and a Muhammadan orderly finally shot it. 

The camel was devoured raw almost before the life had 16. The 
left the body, so that its divine life and blood might be Sacrifice 
absorbed by the worshippers. The obligation to devour the 
whole body perhaps rested on the belief that its slaughter 
otherwise than as a sacrifice was impious, and if any part of 
the body was left unconsumed the clan would incur the 
guilt of murder. Afterwards, when more civilised stomachs 
revolted against the practice of devouring the whole body, 
the bones were buried or burnt, and it is suggested that our 
word bonfire comes from bone-fire. 1 Primitive usage required 
the presence of every clansman, so that each might partici- 
pate in shedding the sacred blood. Neither the blood of 
the god nor of any of the kinsmen might be spilt by private 
violence, but only by consent of the kindred and the kindred 
god. Similarly in shedding the blood of a member of the 
kin all the others were required to share the responsibility, 
and this was the ancient Hebrew form of execution where 
the culprit was stoned by the whole congregation. 2 

M. Salomon Reinach gives the following explanation of 17. Animal 
Greek myths in connection with the sacrificial meal : " The Q^g 65 
primitive sacrifice of the god, usually accompanied by the 
eating of the god in fellowship, was preserved in their 
religious rites, and when its meaning had been forgotten 
numerous legends were invented to account for it. In order 
to understand their origin it is necessary to remember that 
the primitive worshippers masqueraded as the god and took 
his name. As the object of the totem sacrifice is to make 
the participants like the god and confer his divinity on them, 
the faithful endeavoured to increase the resemblance by 
taking the name of the god and covering themselves with 
the skins of animals of his species. Thus the Athenian 
damsels celebrating the worship of the bear Artemis dressed 
themselves in bear-skins and called themselves bears ; the 

1 Dr. Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religion, p. 1 50. 
2 Religion of the Semites, p. 285. 

362 KASAI part 

Maenads who sacrificed the doe Penthea were clad in doe- 
skins. Even in the later rites the devotees of Bacchus 
called themselves Bacchantes. A whole series of legends 
can be interpreted as semi-rationalistic explanations of the 
sacrificial meal. Actaeon was really a great stag sacrificed 
by women devotees who called themselves the great hind 
and the little hinds ; he became the rash hunter who surprised 
Artemis at her bath, and was transformed into a stag and 
devoured by his own dogs. The dogs are a euphemism ; in 
the early legend they were the human devotees of the sacred 
stag who tore him to pieces and devoured him with their 
bare teeth. These feasts of raw flesh survived in the secret 
religious cults of Greece long after uncooked meat had ceased 
to be consumed in ordinary life. Orpheus {ophretts, the 
haughty), who appears in art with the skin of a fox on his 
head, was originally a sacred fox devoured by the women of 
the fox totem-clan ; these women call themselves Bassarides 
in the legend, and bassareus is one of the old names of the 
fox. Zagreus is a son of Zeus and Persephone who trans- 
formed himself into a bull to escape from the Titans, excited 
against him by Hera ; the Titans, worshippers of the divine 
bull, killed and ate him ; Zagreus was invoked in his worship 
as the ' good bull,' and when Zagreus by the grace of Zeus 
was reborn as Dionysus, the young god carried on his fore- 
head the horns which bore witness to his animal nature. 
Hippolytus in the fable is the son of Theseus who repels 
the advances of Phaedra, his stepmother, and was killed by 
his runaway horses because Theseus, deceived by Phaedra, 
invoked the anger of a god upon him. But Hippolytus in 
Greek means ' One torn to pieces by horses.' Hippolytus is 
himself a horse whom the worshippers of the horse, calling 
themselves horses and disguised as such, tore to pieces and 
devoured. Phaethon (The Shining One) is a son of Apollo, 
who demands leave to drive the chariot of the sun, drives it 
badly, nearly burns up the world, and finally falls and perishes 
in the sea. This legend is the product of an old rite at 
Rhodes, the island of the sun, where every year a white 
horse and a burning chariot were thrown into the sea to 
help the sun, fatigued by his labours." x 

1 Orphans, pp. 123, 125. 


M. Reinach points out that the Passover of the Israelites 18. Tin- 
was in its origin a similar sacrifice. A lamb or kid, the 
first-fruit of the flocks, was eaten entire without the bones 
being broken, the blood smeared on the doorway being an 
offering to the god. The story connecting this sacrifice with 
the death of the first-born in Egypt was of later origin, 
devised to account for it when the real meaning had been 
forgotten. 1 The name Rachel 2 means a ewe, and it would 
appear that the children of Israel in the pastoral stage had 
the sheep for their totem deity and supposed themselves to 
be descended from it, as the Jats consider themselves to be 
descended from Siva, probably in his form of Mahadeo, the 
deified bull. As held in Canaan, the festival may have been 
a relic of the former migratory life of the Israelites when 
they tended flocks and regarded the sheep, or goat, as their 
most important domestic animal. It may have been in 
memory of this wandering life that the festival was accom- 
panied by the eating of unleavened bread, and the sacrifice 
was consumed with loins girded up and staffs in their hands, 
as if in readiness for a journey. The Banjaras retain in 
their marriage and other customs various reminiscences of 
their former migratory life, as shown in the article on that 
caste. The Gadarias of the Central Provinces worship a 
goddess called Dishai Devi, who is represented by a stone 
platform just outside the sheep-pen. She has thus probably 
developed from the deified sheep or goat, which itself was 
formerly worshipped. On the eighth day of the fasts in 
Chait and Kunwar the Gadarias offer the goddess a virgin 
she-goat. They wash the goat's feet in water and rub 
turmeric on its feet and head. It is given rice to eat and 
brought before the goddess, and water is poured over its 
body ; when the goat begins to shiver they think that the 
goddess has accepted the offering, and cut its throat with a 
sickle or knife. Then the animal is roasted whole and eaten in 
the veranda of the house, nothing being thrown away but the 
bones. Only men may join in this sacrifice, and not women. 

1 In following the explanation of the lamb was a substitute for the previous 
Passover given by Professor Robertson sacrifice by the Israelites of their first- 
Smith and M. Reinach, it is necessary born sons. 

with great diffidence to dissent from the 2 Orph&ts, p. 272; Religion of the 

hypothesis of Sir J. G. Frazer that the Semites, p. 31 1. 

3 6 4 


19. Sanc- 
tity of 

Thus it was a more or less general rule among several 
races that the domestic animals were deified and held sacred, 
and were slain only at a sacrifice. It followed that it was 
sinful to kill these animals on any other occasion. It has 
already been seen that the Arabs forbore to kill their 
worn-out camels for food except when driven to it by hunger 
as a last resort. " That it was once a capital offence to 
kill an ox, both in Attica and the Peloponnesus, is attested by 
Varro. So far as Athens is concerned, this statement seems 
to be drawn from the legend that was told in connection 
with the annual sacrifice at the Diipolia, where the victim 
was a bull and its death was followed by a solemn inquiry 
as to who was responsible for the act. In this trial every- 
one who had anything to do with the slaughter was called 
as a party ; the maidens who drew water to sharpen the axe 
and knife threw the blame on the sharpeners, they put it on 
the man who handed the axe, he on the man who struck 
down the victim, and he again on the one who cut its throat, 
who finally fixed the responsibility on the knife, which was 
accordingly found guilty of murder and cast into the sea." x 
" At Tenedos the priest who offered a bull-calf to Dionysus 
antJiroporraistes was attacked with stones and had to flee for 
his life ; and at Corinth, in the annual sacrifice of a goat to 
Hera Acraea, care was taken to shift the responsibility of 
the death off the shoulders of the community by employing 
hirelings as ministers. Even they did no more than hide 
the knife in such a way that the goat, scraping with its feet, 
procured its own death." 2 " Agatharchides, describing the 
Troglodytes of East Africa, a primitive pastoral people in 
the polyandrous state of society, tells us that their whole 
sustenance was derived from their flocks and herds. When 
pasture abounded, after the rainy season, they lived on milk 
mingled with blood (drawn apparently, as in Arabia, from the 
living animal), and in the dry season they had recourse to 
the flesh of aged or weakly beasts. Further, ' they gave the 
name of parent to no human being, but only to the ox 
and cow, the ram and ewe, from whom they had their 
nourishment' Among' the Caffres the cattle kraal is 
sacred ; women may not enter it, and to defile it is a 
1 Religion of the Semites, p. 304. - Ibidem, pp. 305, 306. 


capital offence." ] Among the Egyptians also cows were 
never killed. 2 

Gradually, however, as the reverence for animals declined 20. Sacri- 
and the true level of their intelligence compared to that of s w hter 
man came to be better appreciated, the sanctity attaching to for food. 
their lives no doubt grew weaker. Then it would become 
permissible to kill a domestic animal privately and otherwise 
than by a joint sacrifice of the clan ; but the old custom of 
justifying the slaughter by offering it to the god would still 
remain. " At this stage, 3 at least among the Hebrews, the 
original sanctity of the life of domestic animals is still recog- 
nised in a modified form, inasmuch as it is held unlawful to 
use their flesh for food except in a sacrificial meal. But 
this rule is not strict enough to prevent flesh from becoming 
a familiar luxury. Sacrifices are multiplied on trivial occa- 
sions of religious gladness or social festivity, and the rite of 
eating at the sanctuary loses the character of an exceptional 
sacrament, and means no more than that men are invited to 
feast and be merry at the table of their god, or that no feast 
is complete in which the god has not his share." 4 This is 
the stage reached by the Hebrews in the time of Samuel, as 
described by Professor Robertson Smith, and it bears much 
resemblance to that of the lower Hindu castes and the Gonds 
at the present time. They too, when they can afford to kill 
a goat or a pig, cows being prohibited in deference to Hindu 
susceptibility, take it to the shrine of some village deity and 
offer it there prior to feasting on it with their friends. At 
intervals of a year or more many of the lower castes sacrifice 
a goat to Dulha Deo, the bridegroom-god, and Thakur Deo, 
the corn-god, and eat the body as a sacrificial meal within 
the house, burying the bones and other remnants beneath 
the floor of the house. 5 Among the Kafirs of the Hindu 
Kush, when a man wishes to become a Jast, apparently a 
revered elder or senator, he must give a series of feasts to 
the whole community, so expensive that many men utterly 
ruin themselves in becoming Jast. The initiatory pro- 
ceedings are sacrifices of bulls and male goats to Glsh, the 

1 Religion of the Semites, pp. 296, 3 When the blood of the animal was 
297. poured out before the god as his share. 

4 Religion of the Semites, p. 246. 

2 Golden Bough, ii. p. 313. 5 Vide article on Dhanwar. 

366 KASAI part 

war-god, at the village shrine. The animals are examined 
with jealous eyes by the spectators, to see that they come up 
to the prescribed standard of excellence. After the sacrifice 
the meat is divided among the people, who carry it to 
their homes. These special sacrifices at the shrine recur at 
intervals ; but the great slaughterings are at the feast-giver's 
own house, where he entertains sometimes the Jast exclu- 
sively and sometimes the whole tribe, as already mentioned. 1 
Even in the latter case, however, after a big distribution at 
the giver's house one or two goats are offered to the war-god 
at his shrine ; and while the animals are being killed at the 
house offerings are made on a sacrificial fire, and as each 
soat is slain a handful of its blood is taken and thrown on 
the fire. 2 The Kafirs would therefore appear to be in the 
stage when it is still usual to kill domestic animals as a 
sacrifice to the god, but no longer obligatory. 
21. Animal Finally animals are recognised for what they are, all 

fights ' sanctity ceases to attach to them, and they are killed for food 
in an ordinary manner. Possibly, however, such customs as 
roasting an ox whole, and the sports of bull-baiting and bull- 
fighting, may be relics of the ancient sacrifice. Formerly 
the buffaloes sacrificed at the shrine of the goddess Rankini 
or Kali in Dalbhum zamlndari of Chota Nagpur were made 
to fight. " Two male buffaloes are driven into a small en- 
closure and on a raised stage adjoining and overlooking it 
the Raja and his suite take up their position. After some 
ceremonies the Raja and his family priest discharge arrows 
at the buffaloes, others follow their example, and the 
tormented and enraged beasts fall to and gore each other 
whilst arrow after arrow is discharged. When the animals 
are past doing very much mischief, the people rush in and 
hack at them with battle-axes till they are dead." 3 
22. The Muhammadans however cannot eat the flesh of an animal 

methocTof un l ess its throat is cut and the blood allowed to flow before 
killing. it dies. At the time of cutting the throat a sacred text 
or invocation must be repeated. It has been seen that 
in former times the blood of the animal was offered to 
the god and scattered on the altar or collected in a pit at its 

1 Sir G. Robertson, Kafirs of the 2 Ibidem, p. 460. 

Hindu Kush, pp. 450, 451. 3 ~Da\\ox\, Ethnology of Bengal, p. 1^6. 


foot. It may be suggested that the method of killing which 
still survives was that formerly practised in offering the 
sacrifice, and that the necessity of allowing the blood to flow 
is a relic of the blood offering. When it no longer became 
necessary to sacrifice every animal at a shrine the sacrificial 
method of slaughter and the invocation to the god might be 
retained as removing the impiety of the act. At present it 
is said that unless an animal's blood flows it is a murda or 
corpse, and hence not suitable for food. But this idea may 
have grown up to account for the custom when its original 
meaning had been forgotten. The Gonds, when sacrificing 
a fowl, hold it over the sacred post or stone, which represents 
the god, and let the blood drop upon it. And when sacrific- 
ing a pig they first cut its tongue and let the blood fall upon 
the symbol of the god. In Chhattisgarh, when a Hindu is 
ill he makes a vow of the affected limb to the god ; then on 
recovering he goes to the temple, and cutting this limb, lets 
the blood fall on to the symbol of the god as an offering. 
Similarly the Sikhs are forbidden to eat flesh unless the 
animal has been killed by jatka or cutting off the head with 
one stroke, and the same rule is observed by some of the 
lower Hindu castes. In Hindu sacrifices it is often custom- 
ary that the head of the animal should be made over to the 
officiating priest as his share, and so in killing the animal he 
would naturally cut off its head. The above rule may there- 
fore be of the same character as the rite of Jialal anions the 
Muhammadans, and here also the sacrificial method of killing 
an animal may be retained to legalise its slaughter after the 
sacrifice itself has fallen into desuetude. In Berar some 
time ago the Mullah or Muhammadan priest was a village 
servant and the Hindus paid him dues. In return he was 
accustomed to kill the goats and sheep which they wished 
to sacrifice at temples, or in their fields to propitiate the 
deities presiding over them. He also killed animals for the 
Khatlk or mutton-butcher and the latter exposed them for 
sale. The Mullah was entitled to the heart of the animal 
killed as his perquisite and a fee of two pice. Some of the 
Marathas were unmindful of the ceremony, but in general 
they professed not to eat flesh unless the sacred verse had 
been pronounced either by the Mullah or some Muhammadan 

368 KASAI part 

capable of rendering it haltxl or lawful to be eaten. 1 Hence 
it would appear that the Hindus, unprovided by their own 
religion with any sacrificial mode of legalising the slaughter 
of animals, adopted the ritual of a foreign faith in order to 
make animal sacrifices acceptable to their own deities. The 
belief that it is sinful to kill a domestic animal except with 
some religious sanction is thus clearly shown in full force. 
23. Animal Among high-caste Hindus also sacrifices, including the 
sacrifices killing of cows, were at one time legal. This is shown by 

in Indian ° „ ,...- „ r 

ritual. several legends," and is also a historical fact. One of 
Asoka's royal edicts prohibited at the capital the celebration 
of animal sacrifices and merry-makings involving the use of 
meat, but in the provinces apparently they continued to be 
lawful. 3 This indicates that prior to the rise of Buddhism 
such sacrifices had been customary, and also that when a 
feast was to be given, involving the consumption of meat, 
the animal was offered as a sacrifice. It is noteworthy that 
Asoka's rules do not forbid the slaughter of cows. 4 In 
ancient times also the most important royal sacrifice was 
that of the horse. The development of religious belief and 
practice in connection with the killing of domestic animals 
has thus proceeded on exactly opposite lines in India as 
compared with most of the world. Domestic animals have 
become more instead of less sacred and several of them 
cannot be killed at all. The reason usually given to account 
for this is the belief in the transmigration of souls, leading 
to the conclusion that the bodies of animals might be 
tenanted by human souls. Probably also Buddhism left 
powerful traces of its influence on the Hindu view of the 

1 Grant-Duff, History of the Mara- refused to eat animals not killed by 

thas, vol. i. p. 27. Mr. Hlra Lai halal ; they must in that case have 

notes that owing to the predominance attached some religious significance or 

of Muhammadans in Berar the practice virtue to the rite, and the most probable 

of slaughtering all animals by the significance is perhaps that stated in 

method of halal and the regular em- the text. As Mr. Hlra Lai points out, 

ployment of the Mullah to pronounce the Hindu sacred books provide an 

the sacred text before slaughter may elaborate ritual for the sacrifice of 

have grown up for their convenience. animals, but this may have fallen into 

And, as in other instances, the Hindus abeyance with the decline in the custom 

may have simply imitated the Muham- of eating meat, 
madans in regarding this method of 2 Vide article on Mochi. 

slaughter as necessary. This however 

scarcely seems to impair the force of * V - A< Smi t h > Asoka, p. 56. 

the argument if the Hindus actually * Ibidem, p. 58. 

ii KASAR 369 

sanctity of animal life even after it had ceased to be the state 
religion. Perhaps the Brahmans desired to make their faith 
more popular and took advantage of the favourite reverence of 
all cultivators for the cow to exalt her into one of their most 
powerful deities, and at the same time to extend the local cult 
of Krishna, the divine cowherd, thus following exactly the 
contrary course to that taken by Moses with the golden calf. 
Generally the growth of political and national feeling has 
mainly operated to limit the influence of the priesthood, and 
the spread of education and development of reasoned criti- 
cism and discussion have softened the strictness of religious 
observance and ritual. Both these factors have been almost 
entirely wanting in Hindu society, and this perhaps explains 
the continued sanctity attaching to the lives of domestic 
animals as well as the unabated power of the caste system. 

Kasar, Kasera, Kansari, Bharewa. 1 — The professional ,. Distri- 
caste of makers and sellers of brass and copper vessels. In huUou ;1 ' ui 

1 x origin of 

191 1 the Kasars numbered 20,000 persons in the Central the caste. 
Provinces and Berar, and were distributed over all Districts, 
except in the Jubbulpore division, where they are scarcely 
found outside Mandla. Their place in the other Districts 
of this division is taken by the Tameras. In Mandla the 
Kasars are represented by the inferior Bharewa group. The 
name of the caste is derived from kdnsa, a term now applied 
to bell-metal. The kindred caste of Tameras take their 
name from tdmba, copper, but both castes work in this 
metal indifferently, and in Saugor, Damoh and Jubbulpore 
no distinction exists between the Kasars and Tameras, the 
same caste being known by both names. A similar con- 
fusion exists in northern India in the use of the correspond- 
ing terms Kasera and Thathera." In Wardha the Kasars 
are no longer artificers, but only dealers, employing Panchals 
to make the vessels which they retail in their shops. And 
the same is the case with the Maratha and Deshkar sub- 
castes in Nagpur. The Kasars are a respectable caste, 
ranking next to the Sunars among the urban craftsmen. 

1 This article is compiled from Mr. Deodatla Namdar, Manager, 

papers by Mr. Rajaram Gangadhar, Court of Wards, Chauri. 
TahsTldar, Arvi ; Mr. Sadasheo Jairam, 2 Crookc's Tribes and Castes, art. 

Sanskrit Professor, I lislop College ; and Thathera. 

VOL. Ill 2 B 

370 KASAR part 

According to a legend given by Mr. Sadasheo Jairam 
they trace their origin from Dharampal, the son of Sahasra 
Arjun or Arjun of the Thousand Arms. Arjun was the 
greatgrandson of Ekshvaku, who was born in the forests of 
Kalinga, from the union of a mare and a snake. On this 
account the Kasars of the Maratha country say that they all 
belong to the Ahihaya clan (Ahi, a snake ; and Haya, a 
mare). Arjun was killed by Parasurama during the slaughter 
of the Kshatriyas and DharampaTs mother escaped with 
three other pregnant women. According to another version 
all the four women were the wives of the king of the 
Somvansi Rajputs who stole the sacred cow Kamdhenu. 
Their four sons on growing up wished to avenge their 
father and prayed to the Goddess Kali for weapons. But 
unfortunately in their prayer, instead of saying ban, arrow, 
they said van, which means pot, and hence brass pots were 
given to them instead of arrows. They set out to sell the 
pots, but got involved in a quarrel with a Raja, who killed 
three of them, but was defeated by the fourth, to whom he 
afterwards gave his daughter and half his kingdom ; and this 
hero became the ancestor of the Kasars. In some localities 
the Kasars say that Dharampal, the Rajput founder of their 
caste, was the ancestor of the Haihaya Rajput kings of 
Ratanpur ; and it is noticeable that the Thatheras of the 
United Provinces state that their original home was a place 
called Ratanpur, in the Deccan. 1 Both Ratanpur and 
Mandla, which are very old towns, have important brass 
and bell -metal industries, their bell -metal wares being 
especially well known on account of the brilliant polish 
which is imparted to them. And the story of the Kasars 
may well indicate, as suggested by Mr. Hlra Lai, that 
Ratanpur was a very early centre of the brass -working 
industry, from which it has spread to dther localities in this 
part of India. 
2. internal The caste have a number of subdivisions, mainly of a 

structure, territorial nature. Among these are the Maratha Kasars ; 
the Deshkar, who also belong to the Maratha country ; the 
Pardeshi or foreigners, the J hade or residents of the forest 
country of the Central Provinces, and the Audhia or 

1 Crooke's art. Thathera. 


Ajudhiabasi who are immigrants from Oudh. Another 
subdivision, the Bharewas, are of a distinctly lower status 
than the body of the caste, and have non-Aryan customs, 
such as the eating of pork. They make the heavy brass 
ornaments which the Gonds and other tribes wear on their 
legs, and are probably an occupational offshoot from one of 
these tribes. In Chanda some of the Bharewas serve as 
grooms and are looked down upon by the others. They have 
totemistic septs, named after animals and plants, some of 
which are Gond words ; and among them the bride goes to 
the bridegroom's house to be married, which is a Gond 
custom. The Bharewas may more properly be considered 
as a separate caste of lower status. As previously stated, 
the Maratha and Deshkar subcastes of the Maratha country 
no longer make vessels, but only keep them for sale. One 
subcaste, the Otaris, make vessels from moulds, while the 
remainder cut and hammer into shape the imported sheets 
of brass. Lastly comes a group comprising those members 
of the caste who are of doubtful or illegitimate descent, and 
these are known either as Takle (' Thrown out ' in Marathi), 
Bidur, ' Bastard,' or Laondi Bachcha, ' Issue of a kept wife.' 
In the Maratha country the Kasars, as already seen, say 
that they all belong to one gotra, the Ahihaya. They have, 
however, collections of families distinguished by different 
surnames, and persons having the same surname are forbidden 
to marry. In the northern Districts they have the usual 
collection of exogamous septs, usually named after villages. 

The marriages of first cousins are generally forbidden, 3. Social 
as well as of members of the same sept. Divorce and the customs - 
remarriage of widows are permitted. Devi or Bhawani is 
the principal deity of the caste, as of so many Hindus. At 
her festival of Mando Amawas or the day of the new moon 
of Phagun (February), every Kasar must return to the 
community of which he is a member and celebrate the feast 
with them. And in default of this he will be expelled from 
caste until the next Amawas of Phagun comes round. They 
close their shops and worship the implements of their trade 
on this day and also on the Pola day. The Kasars, as 
already stated, rank next to the Sunars among the artisan 
castes, and the Audhia Sunars, who make ornaments of bell- 


372 KASAR part 11 

metal, form a connecting link between the two groups. The 
social status of the Kasars varies in different localities. In 
some places Brahmans take water from them but not in 
others. Some Kasars now invest boys with the sacred 
thread at their weddings, and thereafter it is regularly worn. 
4. Occupa- The caste make eating and drinking vessels, ornaments 

and ornamental figures from brass, copper and bell-metal. 
Brass is the metal most in favour for utensils, and it is 
usually imported in sheets from Bombay, but in places it is 
manufactured from a mixture of three parts of copper and 
two of zinc. This is consideied the best brass, though it is 
not so hard as the inferior kinds, in which the proportion of 
zinc is increased. Ornaments of a grey colour, intended to 
resemble silver, are made from a mixture of four parts of 
copper with five of zinc. Bell-metal is an alloy of copper 
and tin, and in Chanda is made of four parts of copper to 
one part tin or tinfoil, the tin being the more expensive 
metal. Bells of fairly good size and excellent tone are 
moulded from this amalgam, and plates or saucers in which 
anything acid in the way of food is to be kept are also made 
of it, since acids do not corrode this metal as they do brass 
and copper. But bell-metal vessels are fragile and some- 
times break when dropped. They cannot also be heated in 
the fire to clean them, and therefore cannot be lent to 
persons outside the family ; while brass vessels may be lent 
to friends of other castes, and on being received back pollution 
is removed by heating them in the fire or placing hot ashes 
in them. Brahmans make a small fire of grass for this 
purpose and pass the vessels through the flame. Copper 
cooking-pots are commonly used by Muhammadans but not 
by Hindus, as they have to be coated with tin ; the Hindus 
consider that tin is an inferior metal whose application to 
copper degrades the latter. Pots made of brass with a 
copper rim are called ' Ganga Jamni ' after the confluence 
of the dark water of the Jumna with the muddy stream of 
the Ganges, whose union they are supposed to symbolise. 
Small figures of the deities or idols are also made of brass, 
but some Kasars will not attempt this work, because they 
are afraid of the displeasure of the god in case the figure 
should not be well or symmetrically shaped. 



1 . General notice. 5 . Caste custom!;. 

2. Girls dedicated to temples. 6. First pregnancy. 

3. Music and dancing. 7. Different classes of 'women. 

4. Education of courtesans. 8. Dancing and singing. 

Kasbi, 1 Tawaif, Devadasi. — The caste of dancing-girls 1. General 
and prostitutes. The name Kasbi is derived from the Arabic notlce - 
kasab, prostitution, and signifies rather a profession than a 
caste. In India practically all female dancers and singers 
are prostitutes, the Hindus being still in that stage of the 
development of intersexual relations when it is considered 
impossible that a woman should perform before the public 
and yet retain her modesty. It is not so long that this idea 
has been abandoned by Western nations, and the fashion of 
employing women actors is perhaps not more than two or 
three centuries old in England. The gradual disappearance 
of the distinctive influence of sex in the public and social 
conduct of women is presumably a sign of advancing 
civilisation, and is greatest in the West, the old standards 
retaining more and more vitality as we proceed Eastward. 
Among the Anglo-Saxon races women are almost entirely 
emancipated from any handicap due to their sex,, and direct 
their lives with the same freedom and independence as men. 
Among the Latin races many people still object to girls 
walking out alone in towns, and in Italy the number of 
women to be seen in the streets is so small that it must be 
considered improper for a young and respectable woman 
to go about alone. Here also survives the mariage de 

1 A part of the information con- Mr. Aduram Chaudbri of the Gazetteer 
taineel in this article is furnished by Office. 


374 KASBI part 

convenance or arrangement of matches by the parents ; the 
underlying reason for this custom, which also partly accounts 
for the institution of infant-marriage, appears to be that it is 
not considered safe to permit a young girl to frequent the 
society of unmarried men with sufficient freedom to be able 
to make her own choice. And, finally, on arrival in Egypt 
and Turkey we find the seclusion of women still practised, 
and only now beginning to weaken before the influence of 
Western ideas. But again in the lowest scale of civilisation, 
among the Gonds and other primitive tribes, women are 
found to enjoy great freedom of social intercourse. This is 
partly no doubt because their lives are too hard and rude 
to permit of any seclusion of women, but also partly because 
they do not yet consider it an obligatory feature of the 
institution of marriage that a girl should enter upon it in the 
condition of a virgin. 
2 . Girls In the Deccan girls dedicated to temples are called 

dedicated Devadasis or ' Hand-maidens of the gods.' They are thus 

to temples. 

described by Marco Polo : " In this country, he says, " there 
are certain abbeys in which are gods and goddesses, and 
here fathers and mothers often consecrate their daughters to 
the service of the deity. When the priests desire to feast 
their god they send for those damsels, who serve the god 
with meats and other goods, and then sing and dance before 
him for about as long as a great baron would be eating his 
dinner. Then they say that the god has devoured the 
essence of the food, and fall to and eat it themselves." l 
Mr. Francis writes of the Devadasis as follows : 1 "It is 
one of the many inconsistences of the Hindu religion 
that though their profession is repeatedly and vehemently 
condemned by the Shastras it has always received the 
countenance of the church. The rise of the caste and its 
euphemistic name seem both of them to date from the ninth 
and tenth centuries of our era, during which much activity 
prevailed in southern India in the matter of building temples 
and elaborating the services held in them. The dancing- 
girls' duties then as now were to fan the idol with chamaras 

1 Madras Census Report (1901), p. and Malabar, and Elliot's History of 
151, quoting from South Indian hi- India, 
scriptions, Buchanan's Mysore, Canara 


or Thibetan ox-tails, to hold the sacred light called Kumbarti 
and to sing and dance before the god when he was carried 
in procession. Inscriptions show that in A.D. 1004 the 
great temple of the Chola king Rajaraja at Tanjore had 
attached to it 400 women of the temple who lived in free 
quarters in the surrounding streets, and were given a grant 
of land from the endowment. Other temples had similar 
arrangements. At the beginning of last century there were 
a hundred dancing-girls attached to the temple at Conjee- 
veram, and at Madura, Conjeeveram and Tanjore there are 
still numbers of them who receive allowances from the endow- 
ments of the big temples at those places. In former days 
the profession was countenanced not only by the church 
but by the state. Abdur Razak, a Turkish ambassador 
to the court of Vijayanagar in the fifteenth century, describes 
women of this class as living in state-controlled institutions, 
the revenue of which went towards the upkeep of the police." 
The dedication of girls to temples and religious prostitu- 
tion was by no means confined to India but is a common 
feature of ancient civilisation. The subject has been men- 
tioned by Dr. Westermarck in The Origin and Development 
of the Moral Ideas, and fully discussed by Sir James Frazer 
in A ttis, Adonis, Osiris. The best known and most peculiar 
instance is that of the temple of Istar in Babylonia. " Hero- 
dotus says that every woman born in that country was 
obliged once in her life to go and sit down in the precinct of 
Aphrodite and there consort with a stranger. A woman 
who had once taken her seat was not allowed to return 
home till one of the strangers threw a silver coin into her 
lap and took her with him beyond the holy ground. The 
silver coin could not be refused because, since once thrown, 
it was sacred. The woman went with the first man who 
threw her money, rejecting no one. When she had gone 
with him and so satisfied the goddess, she returned home, 
and from that time forth no gift, however great, would prevail 
with her. In the Canaanitish cults there were women called 
kedeshoth, who were consecrated to the deity with whose 
temple they were associated, and who at the same time 
acted as prostitutes." ' Other instances are given from 
1 Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, ii. pp. 444, 445. 

37 6 KASBI tart 

Africa, Egypt and ancient Greece. The principal explana- 
tion of these practices was that the act of intercourse, 
according to the principle of sympathetic magic, produced 
fertility, usually of the crops, though in the Babylonian case, 
Dr. Westermarck thinks, of the woman herself. Several 
instances have been recorded of people who perform the 
sexual act as a preliminary or accompaniment to sowing the 
crops, 1 and there seems little doubt that this explanation is 
correct. A secondary idea of religious prostitution may 
have been to afford to the god the same sexual pleasures as 
delighted an earthly king. Tins the Skanda Purana relates 
that Kartikeya, the Hindu god of war, was sent by his 
father to frustrate the sacrifice of Daksha, and at the in- 
stigation of the latter was delayed on his way by beautiful 
damsels, who entertained him with song and dance. Hence 
it is the practice still for dancing-girls who serve in the 
pagodas to be betrothed and married to him, after which 
they may prostitute themselves but cannot marry a man. 2 
Similarly the Murlis or dancing-girls in Maratha temples 
are married to Khandoba, the Maratha god of war. Some- 
times the practice of prostitution might begin by the priests 
of the temple as representatives of the god having inter- 
course with the women. This is stated to have been the 
custom at the temple of Jagannath in Orissa, where the 
officiating Brahmans had adulterous connection with the 
women who danced and sang before the god. 3 

Both music and dancing, like others of the arts, probably 
originated as part of a religious or magical service or ritual, 
and hence would come to be practised by the women attached 
to temples. And it would soon be realised what potent 
attractions these arts possessed when displayed by women, 
and in course of time they would be valued as accomplish- 
ments in themselves, and either acquired independently 
by other courtesans or divorced from a sole application to 
religious ritual. In this manner music, singing and dancing 
may have grown to be considered as the regular attractions 
of the courtesan and hence immoral in themselves, and not 

1 The Golden Bough, vol. ii. p. 205 the Hindus, p. 322. 

et seq. z Westermarck, ibidem, quoting 

2 Garrett's Classical Dictionary of Ward's Hindus, p. 134. 


suitable for display by respectable women. The Emperor 

Shah Jahan is said to have delighted in the performances 

of the Tawaif or Muhammadan singing and dancing girls, 

who at that time lived in bands and occupied mansions 

as large as palaces. 1 Aurangzeb ordered them all to be 

married or banished from his dominions, but they did not 

submit without a protest ; and one morning as the Emperor 

was going to the mosque he saw a vast crowd of mourners 

marching in file behind a bier, and filling the air with 

screams and lamentations. He asked what it meant, and 

was told that they were going to bury Music ; their mother 

had been executed, and they were weeping over her loss. 

'Bury her deep,' the Emperor cried, ' she must never rise 


The possession of these attractions naturally gave the 4. Educa- 

courtesan an advantage over ordinary women who lacked tlon ,° 
o J couri 

them, and her society was much sought after, as shown in 
the following description of a native court : ~ " Nor is the 
courtesan excluded, she of the smart saying, famed for the 
much-valued cleverness which is gained in ' the world,' who 
when the learned fail is ever ready to cut the Gordian knot 
of solemn question with the sharp blade of her repartee, 
for — The sight of foreign lands ; the possession of a Pandit 
for a friend ; a cotcrtesan ; access to the royal court ; patient 
study of the Shastras ; the roots of cleverness are these 
five." Mr. Crooke also remarks on the tolerance extended to 
this class of women : " The curious point about Indian 
prostitutes is the tolerance with which they are received into 
even respectable houses, and the absence of that strong 
social disfavour in which this class is held in European 
countries. This feeling has prevailed for a lengthened 
period. We read in the Buddhist histories of Ambapata, the 
famous courtesan, and the price of her favours fixed at two 
thousand masurans. The same feeling appears in the folk- 
tales and early records of Indian courts." 3 It may be 
remarked, however, that the social ostracism of such women 
has not always been the rule in Europe, while as regards 

1 Wheeler's History of India, vol. :1 Crooke's Tribes ■• . art. 
i\. part ii. pp. 324, 325. Tawaif. 

2 Forbes, Rasmala, i. p. 247. 

378 KASBI part 

conjugal morality Indian society would probably appear to 
great advantage beside that of Europe in the Middle Ages. 
But when the courtesan is alone possessed of the feminine 
accomplishments, and also sees much of society and can 
converse with point and intelligence on public affairs, her 
company must necessarily be more attractive than that of 
the women of the family, secluded and uneducated, and able 
to talk about nothing but the petty details of household 
management. Education so far as women were concerned 
was to a large extent confined to courtesans, who were 
taught all the feminine attainments on account of the large 
return to be obtained in the practice of their profession. 
This is well brought out in the following passage from a 
Hindu work in which the mother speaks : * " Worthy Sir, 
this daughter of mine would make it appear that I am to 
blame, but indeed I have done my duty, and have carefully 
prepared her for that profession for which by birth she was 
intended. From earliest childhood I have bestowed the 
greatest care upon her, doing everything in my power to 
promote her health and beauty. As soon as she was old 
enough I had her carefully instructed in the arts of dancing, 
acting, playing on musical instruments, singing, painting, 
preparing perfumes and flowers, in writing and conversation, 
and even to some extent in grammar, logic and philosophy. 
She was taught to play various games with skill and 
dexterity, how to dress well and show herself off to the 
greatest advantage in public ; yet after all the time, trouble 
and money which I have spent upon her, just when I was 
beginning to reap the fruit of my labours, the ungrateful 
girl has fallen in love with a stranger, a young Brahman 
without property, and wishes to marry him and give up her 
profession (of a prostitute), notwithstanding all my entreaties 
and representations of the poverty and distress to which all 
her family will be reduced if she persists in her purpose ; 
and because I oppose this marriage, she declares that she 
will renounce the world and become a devotee." Similarly 
the education of another dancing-srir! is thus described : 2 

■fc> fc>' 

1 Extract from the Dasa Kumara p. 72. 
Charita or Adventures of the Ten 2 S. M. Edwardes, By - ways of 

Youths, in A Group of Hindti Stories, Bombay, p. 31. 

Beuirose, < 



" Gauhar Jan did her duty by the child according to her 
lights. She engaged the best ' Gawayyas ' to teach her 
music, the best ' Kathaks ' to teach her dancing, the best 
' Ustads ' to teach her elocution and deportment, and the 
best of Munshis to ground her in Urdu and Persian belles 
lettres ; so that when Imtiazan reached her fifteenth year 
her accomplishments were noised abroad in the bazar." It 
is still said to be the custom for the Hindus in large towns, 
as among the Greeks of the time of Pericles, to frequent the 
society of courtesans for the charm of their witty and pointed 
conversation. Betel-nut is provided at such receptions, and 
at the time of departure each person is expected to deposit a 
rupee in the tray. Of course it is in no way meant to assert 
that the custom is at all generally prevalent among educated 
men, as this would be quite untrue. 

The association of all feminine charms and intellectual 
attainments with public women led to the belief that they 
were incompatible with feminine modesty ; and this was 
even extended to certain ornamental articles of clothing such 
as shoes. The Abbe Dubois remarks : l " The courtesans 
are the only women in India who enjoy the privilege of 
learning to read, to dance and to sing. A well-bred respect- 
able woman would for this reason blush to acquire any one 
of these accomplishments." Buchanan says : 2 " The higher 
classes of Hindu women consider every approach to wearing 
shoes as quite indecent ; so that their use is confined to 
Muhammadans, camp trulls and Europeans, and most of 
the Muhammadans have adopted the Hindu notion on this 
subject ; women of low rank wear sandals." And again : " 
" A woman who appears clean in public on ordinary occasions 
may pretty confidently be taken for a prostitute ; such care 
of her person would indeed be considered by her husband 
as totally incompatible with modesty." ■ And as regards 
accomplishments : 4 "It is considered very disgraceful for 
a modest woman to sing or play on any musical instrument ; 
the only time when such a practice is permitted is among 
the Muhammadans at the Muharram, when women are 

1 Hindu Manners, Customs and 3 Ibidem, iii. p. 107. 
Ceremonies, p. 93. 

2 Eastern India, i. p. 119. 4 Ibidem, ii. p. 930. 

3 So KASBI part 

allowed to join in the praises of Fatima and her son." 
And a current saying is : " A woman who sings in the 
house as she goes about her work and one who is fond of 
music can never be a Sati " ; a term which is here used as 
an equivalent for a virtuous woman. Buchanan wrote a 
hundred years ago, and things have no doubt improved since 
his time, but this feeling appears to be principally responsible 
for much of the prejudice against female education, which 
has hitherto been so strong even among the literate classes 
of Hindus ; and is only now beginning to break down as the 
highly cultivated young men of the present day have learned 
to appreciate and demand a greater measure of intelligence 
from their wives. 

Among the better class of Kasbis a certain caste feeling 
and organisation exists. When a girl attains adolescence 
her mother makes a bargain with some rich man to be her 
first consort. Oil and turmeric are rubbed on her body for 
five days as in the case of a bride. A feast is given to the 
caste and the girl is married to a dagger, walking seven 
times round the sacred post with it. Her human consort 
then marks her forehead with vermilion and covers her head 
with her head-cloth seven times. In the evening she goes 
to live with him for as long as he likes to maintain her, and 
afterwards takes up the practice of her profession. In this 
case it is necessary that the man should be an outsider and 
not a member of the Kasbi caste, because the quasi-marriage 
is the formal commencement on the part of the woman of 
her hereditary trade. As already seen, the feeling of shame 
and degradation attaching to this profession in Europe 
appears to be somewhat attenuated in India, and it is 
counterbalanced by that acquiescence in and attachment 
to the caste-calling which is the principal feature of Hindu 
society. And no doubt the life of the dancing-girl has, at 
any rate during youth, its attractions as compared with that 
of a respectable married woman. Tavernier tells the story 1 
of a Shah of Persia who, desiring to punish a dancing-girl 
for having boxed the ears of one of her companions within 
his hearing (it being clearly not the effect of the operation on 
the patient which annoyed his majesty) made an order that 
1 Persian Travels, book iii. chap. xvii. 


she should be married And a more curious instance still 
is the following from a recent review : l " The natives of 
India are by instinct and custom the most conservative race 
in the world. When I was stationed at Aurangabad — fifty 
years ago it is true, but that is but a week in regard to this 
question — a case occurred within my own knowledge which 
shows the strength of hereditary feeling. An elderly wealthy 
native adopted two baby girls, whose mother and family had 
died during a local famine. The children grew up with his 
own girls and were in all respects satisfactory, and apparently 
quite happy until they arrived at the usual age for marriage. 
They then asked to see their papa by adoption, and said to 
him, ' We are very grateful to you for your care of us, but 
we are now grown up. We are told our mother was a 
Kasbi (prostitute), and we must insist on our rights, go out 
into the world, and do as our mother did.' " 

In the fifth or seventh month of the first pregnancy of a 6. First 
Kasbi woman 108 fried wafers of flour and sugar, known as P re § nanc >- 
giljahs, are prepared, and are eaten by her as well as dis- 
tributed to friends and relatives who are invited to the 
house. After this they in return prepare similar wafers and 
send them to the pregnant woman. Some little time before 
the birth the mother washes her head with gram flour, puts 
on new clothes and jewels, and invites all her friends to the 
house, feasting them with rice boiled in milk, cakes and 

Though the better-class Kasbis appear to have a sort of 7. Different 
caste union, this is naturally quite indefinite, inasmuch as classes of 

J 1 women. 

marriage, at present the essential bond of caste-organisation, 
is absent. The sons of Kasbis take up any profession that 
they choose ; and many of them marry and live respectably 
with their wives. Others become musicians and assist at the 
performances of the dancing-girls, as the Bhadua who beats 
the cymbals and sings in chorus and also acts as a pimp, 
and the Sarangia, one who performs on the saraugi or fiddle. 
The girls themselves are of different classes, as the Kasbi or 
Gayan who are Hindus, the Tawaif who are Muhammadans, 
and the Bogam or Telugu dancing-girls. Gond women are 

1 From a review of A German Evelyn Wood in the Saturday Review, 
Staff Officer in India, written by Sir 5th February 19 10. 

382 KASBI part 

known as Deogarhni, and are supposed to have come from 
Deogarh in Chhindwara, formerly the headquarters of a 
Gond dynasty. The Sarangias or fiddlers are now a 
separate caste. In the northern Districts the dancing-girls 
are usually women of the Beria caste and are known as 
Berni. After the spring harvest the village headman hires 
one or two of these girls, who dance and do acrobatic feats 
by torchlight. They will continue all through the night, 
stimulated by draughts of liquor, and it is said that one 
woman will drink two or three bottles of the country spirit. 
The young men of the village beat the drum to accompany 
her dancing, and take turns to see how long they can go on 
doing so without breaking down. After the performance 
each cultivator gives the woman one or two pice (farthings) 
and the headman gives her a rupee. Such a celebration is 
known as Rai, and is distinctive of Bundelkhand. 

In Bengal this class of women often become religious 
mendicants and join the Vaishnava or Bairagi community, 
as stated by Sir H. Risley : 1 " The mendicant members of 
the Vaishnava community are of evil repute, their ranks 
being recruited by those who have no relatives, by widows, 
by individuals too idle or depraved to lead a steady working 
life, and by prostitutes. Vaishnavi, or Baishtabi according 
to the vulgar pronunciation, has come to mean a courtesan. 
A few undoubtedly join from sincere and worthy motives, 
but their numbers are too small to produce any appreciable 
effect on the behaviour of their comrades. The habits of 
these beggars are very unsettled. They wander from village 
to village and from one akhara (monastery) to another, 
fleecing the frugal and industrious peasantry on the plea of 
religion, and singing songs in praise of Hari beneath the 
village tree or shrine. Members of both sexes smoke 
Indian hemp (gdnja), and although living as brothers and 
sisters are notorious for licentiousness. There is every 
reason for suspecting that infanticide is common, as children 
are never seen. In the course of their wanderings they 
entice away unmarried girls, widows, and even married 
women on the pretence of visiting Sri Kshetra (Jagannath) 

1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. refers only to the lowest section of 
Vaishnava. The notice, as stated, Bairagis. 


Brindaban or Benares, for which reason they are shunned 
by all respectable natives, who gladly give charity to be rid 
of them." 

In large towns prostitutes belong to all castes. An old 
list obtained by Rai Bahadur Hlra Lai of registered prosti- 
tutes in Jubbulpore showed the following numbers of 
different castes : Barai six, Dhlmar four, and Nai, Khangar, 
Kachhi, Gond, Teli, Brahman, Rajput and Bania three each. 
Each woman usually has one or two girls in training if she 
can obtain them, with a view to support herself by their 
earnings in the same method of livelihood when her own 
attractions have waned. Fatherless and orphan girls run a 
risk of falling into this mode of life, partly because their 
marriages cannot conveniently be arranged, and also from 
the absence of strict paternal supervision. For it is to be 
feared that a girl who is allowed to run about at her will in 
the bazar has little chance of retaining her chastity even up 
to the period of her arrival at adolescence. This is no 
doubt one of the principal considerations in favour of early 
marriage. The caste-people often subscribe for the marriage 
of a girl who is left without support, and it is said that in 
former times an unmarried orphan girl might go and sit 
dharna, or starving herself, at the king's gate until he 
arranged for her wedding. Formerly the practice of obtain- 
ing young girls was carried on to a much greater extent 
than at present. Malcolm remarks : l " Slavery in Malwa 
and the adjoining provinces is chiefly limited to females ; 
but there is perhaps no part of India where there are 
so many slaves of this sex. The dancing - girls are all 
purchased, when young, by the Nakins or heads of the 
different sets or companies, who often lay out large sums 
in these speculations, obtaining advances from the bankers 
on interest like other classes." But the attractions of the 
profession and the numbers of those who engage in it have 
now largely declined. 

The better class of Kasbi women, when seen in public, s. Dancing 
are conspicuous by their wealth of jewellery and their shoes sj' n(Ti , 
of patent leather or other good material. Women of other 
castes do not commonly wear shoes in the streets. The 

1 Memoir of Central India. 

J84 KA TIA part 

Kasbis are always well and completely clothed, and it has 
n noticed elsewhere that the Indian courtesan is more 
modestly dressed than most women. No doubt in this 
matter she knows her business. A well-to-do dancing-girl 
has a dress of coloured muslin or gauze trimmed with tinsel 
lace, with a short waist, long straight sleeves, and skirts 
which reach a little below the knee, a shawl falling from the 
head over the shoulders and wrapped round the body, and 
a pair of tight satin trousers, reaching to the ankles. The 
feet are bare, and strings of small bells are tied round them. 
They usually dance and sing to the accompaniment of the 
tabla, sarangi and majlra. The tabla or drum is made of 
two half-bowls — one brass or clay for the bass, and the other 
of wood for the treble. They are covered with goat-skin 
and played together. The sarangi is a fiddle. The majlra 
(cymbals) consist of two metallic cups slung together and 
used for beating time. Before a dancing -girl begins her 
performance she often invokes the aid of Saraswati, the 
goddess of music. She then pulls her ear as a sign of 
remembrance of Tansen, India's greatest musician, and a 
confession to his spirit of the imperfection of her own sense 
of music. The movements of the feet are accompanied by 
a continual opening and closing of henna-dyed hands ; and 
at intervals the girl kneels at the feet of one or other of the 
audience. On the festival of Basant Panchmi or the com- 
mencement of spring these girls worship their dancing-dress 
and musical instruments with offerings of rice, flowers and 
a cocoanut. 

i. General Katia, Katwa, Katua. — An occupational caste of 

cotton - spinners and village watchmen belonging to the 
Satpura Districts and the Nerbudda valley. In 1911 they 
numbered 41,000 persons and were returned mainly from 
the Hoshangabad, Seoni and Chhindwara Districts. The 
caste is almost confined to the Central Provinces. The 
name is derived from the Hindi kdtna, to spin thread, and 
the Katias are an occupational group probably recruited 
from the Mahars and Koris. They have a tradition, Mr. 
Crooke states, 1 that they were originally Bais Rajputs, whose 
1 Tribes mid Castes of the N.-W. P., art. Katwa. 



ancestors, having been imprisoned for resistance to authority, 
were released on the promise that they would follow a 
woman's occupation of spinning thread. In the Central 
Provinces they are sometimes called Renhta Rajputs or 
Knights of the Spinning Wheel. The tradition of Rajput 
descent need not of course be taken seriously. The 
drudgery of spinning thread was naturally imposed on any 
widow in the household, and hence the saying, ' It is always 
moving, like a widow's spinning-wheel.' 1 

The Katias have several subcastes, with names generally 2. Sub- 
derived from places in the Central Provinces, as Pathari castes and 

1 ' exogamous 

from a village in the Chhindwara District, Mandilwar from groups. 
Mandla, Gadhewal from Garha, near Jubbulpore, and so on. 
The Dulbuha group consist of those who were formerly 
palanquin-bearers (from dolt, a litter). They have also more 
than fifty exogamous septs, with names of the usual low- 
caste type, derived from places, animals or plants, or natural 
objects. Some of the septs are subdivided. Thus the 
Nagotia sept, named after the cobra, is split up into the 
Nagotia, Dirat 2 Nag, Bharowar 3 Nag, Kosam Karia and 
Hazari 4 Nag groups. It is said that the different groups 
do not intermarry ; but it is probable that they do, as other- 
wise there seems to be no object in the subdivision. The 
Kosam Karias worship a cobra at their weddings, but not 
the others. The Singhotia sept, from sing/i, a horn, is 
divided into the Bakaria (goat) and Ghagar-bharia (one who 
fills an earthen vessel) subsepts. The Bakarias offer goats 
to their gods ; and the Ghagar-bharias on the Akti 5 festival, 
just before the breaking of the rains, fill an earthen vessel 
and worship it, and consider it sacred for that day. Next 
day it is brought into ordinary use. The Dongaria sept, 
from dongar, a hill, revere the chheola tree. 6 They choose 
any tree of this species outside the village, and say that it is 
placed on a hill, and go and worship it once a year. In 
this case it would appear that a hill was first venerated as 
an animate being and the ancestor of the sept. When hills 
were no longer so regarded, a ckheola tree growing on a hill 

1 Temple and Fallon's Hindustani < A thousand. 

2 Perhaps a leather strap or belt. '' The third Bais * kh (J une )- 

3 A revolution or circuit. ,; Butea frondosa. 

VOL. Ill 2 C 


386 KA TIA part 

was substituted ; and now the tree only is revered, prob- 
ably a good deal for form's sake, and so far as the hill is 
concerned, the mere pretence that it is growing on a hill 
is sufficient. 
3 . Mar- A main must not take a wife from his own sept nor from 

that of his mother or grandmother. Girls are commonly 
married between eight and twelve years of age ; and a cus- 
tomary payment of Rs. 9 is made to the father of the bride, 
double this amount being given by a widower. An un- 
married girl seduced by a man of the caste is united to him 
by the ceremony used for a widow, and a fine is imposed on 
her parents ; if she goes wrong with an outsider she is ex- 
pelled from the community. In the marriage ceremony the 
customary ritual of the northern Districts is followed, 1 and 
the binding portion of it consists in the bride and bridegroom 
walking seven times around the blianwar or sacred pole. 
While she does this it is essential that the bride should wear 
a string of black beads round her neck and brass anklets on 
her feet. After the ceremony the bride's mother and other 
women dance before the company. Whether the bride be a 
child or young woman she always returns home after a stay 
of a few days at her husband's house, and at her subsequent 
final departure the Gauna or going-away ceremony is per- 
formed. If the bridegroom dies after the wedding and before 
the Gauna, his younger brother or cousin or anybody else 
may come and take away the bride after performing this 
ceremony, and she will be considered as fully married to 
him. She is known as a Gonhyai wife, as distinguished from 
a Byahta or one married in the ordinary manner, and a 
Karta or widow married a second time. But the children of 
all three inherit equally. A widow may marry again, and 
take any one she pleases for her second husband. Widow- 
marriages must not be celebrated in the rainy months of 
Shrawan, Bhadon and Kunwar. No music is allowed at 
them, and the husband must present a fee of a rupee and a 
cocoanut to the malguzar (proprietor) of the village and four 
annas to the kotwar or watchman. A bachelor who is to 
marry a widow first goes through a formal ceremony with a 
cotton plant. Divorce is permitted for mutual disagreement. 

1 A description of the ceremony is given in the article on Kurmi. 


The couple stand before the caste committee and each takes 
a stick, breaks it in two halves, and throws them apart, say- 
ing, " I have no further connection with my husband (or wife), 
and I break my marriage with him (or her) as I break this 

The dead may be either buried or burnt, as convenient, 4. Funeral 
and mourning is always observed for three days. Before the mes- 
corpse is removed a new earthen pot filled with rice is placed 
on the bier. The chief mourner raises it, and addressing the 
deceased informs him that after a certain period he will be 
united to the sainted dead, and until that day his spirit should 
abide happily in the pot and not trouble his family. The 
mouth of the pot is then covered, and after the funeral the 
mourners take it home with them. When the day appointed 
for the final ceremony has come, a miniature platform is made 
from sticks tied together, and garlands and offerings of cakes 
are hung on to it. A small heap of rice is made on the plat- 
form, and just above it a clove is suspended from a thread. 
Songs are sung, and the principal relative opens the pot in 
which the spirit of the deceased has been enclosed. The spirit 
is called upon to join the sacred company of the dead, and the 
party continue to sing and to adjure it with all their force. 
The thread from which the clove is suspended begins to swing 
backwards and forwards over the rice ; and a pig and two or 
three chickens are crushed to death as offerings to the soul 
of the deceased. Finally the clove touches the rice, and it 
is believed that the spirit of the dead man has departed to 
join the sainted dead. The Katias consider that after this 
he requires nothing more from the living, and so they do not 
make the annual offerings to the souls of the departed. 

The caste sometimes employ a Brahman for the marriage 5 Social 
ceremony ; but generally his services are limited to fixing an ru * 
auspicious date, and the functions of a priest are undertaken 
by members of the family. They invite a Brahman to give 
a name to a boy, and call him by this name. They think 
that if they changed the name they would not be able to get 
a wife for the child. They will eat any kind of flesh, includ- 
ing pork and fowls, but they are not considered to be impure. 
They are generally illiterate, and dirty in appearance. Un- 
married girls wear glass bangles on both hands, but married 

388 KA TIA part ii 

women wear metal bracelets on the right hand and glass on 
the left. Girls are twice tattooed : first in childhood, and a 
second time after marriage. The proper avocations of the 
Katias were the spinning of cotton thread and the weaving 
of the finer kinds of cloth ; but most of them have had to 
abandon their ancestral calling from want of custom, and 
they are now either village watchmen or cultivators and 
labourers. A few of them own villages. The Katias think 
themselves rather knowing ; but this opinion is not shared 
by their neighbours, who say ironically of them, " A Katia 
is eight times as wise as an ordinary man, and a Kayasth 
thirteen times. Any one who pretends to be wiser than these 
must be an idiot." 



i. Tribal legend. 7- Disposal of the dead. 

2. Tribal subdivisions. g. Laying spirits. 

3. Exogamous groups. g Rdigio7U 

a. Betrothal a?id marriage. „, . ■_> , *. 

5. Other customs connected with IO " Magic and witchcraft. 

marriage. 1 1 ■ Dress. 

6. Childbirth. 12. Occupation and social rules. 

Kawar, Kanwar, Kaur (honorific title, Sirdar). — A i. Tribal 
primitive tribe living in the hills of the Chhattlsgarh Dis- le e end - 
tricts north of the Mahanadi. The hill-country comprised in 
the northern zamlndari estates of Bilaspur and the adjoining 
Feudatory States of Jashpur, Udaipur, Sarguja, Chang Bhakar 
and Korea is the home of the Kawars, and is sometimes known 
after them as the Kamran. Eight of the Bilaspur zamlndars 
are of the Kawar tribe. The total numbers of the tribe 
are nearly 200,000, practically all of whom belong to the 
Central Provinces. In Bilaspur the name is always pro- 
nounced with a nasal as Kanwar. The Kawars trace their 
origin from the Kauravas of the Mahabharata, who were 
defeated by the Pandavas at the great battle of Hastinapur. 
They say that only two pregnant women survived and fled 
to the hills of Central India, where they took refuge in 
the houses of a Rawat (grazier) and a Dhobi (washerman) 
respectively, and the boy and girl children who were born 
to them became the ancestors of the Kawar tribe. Conse- 
quently, the Kawars will take food from the hands of Rawats, 
especially those of the Kauria subcaste, who are in all 
probability descended from Kawars. And when a Kawar 

1 This article is based almost entirely on a monograph contributed by Mr. 
Hira Lai. 




is put out of caste for having maggots in a wound, a Dhobi 
is always employed to readmit him to social intercourse. 
These facts show that the tribe have some close ancestral 
connection with the Rawats and Dhobis, though the legend 
of descent from the Kauravas is, of course, a myth based on 
the similarity of the names. The tribe have lost their own 
language, if they ever had one, and now speak a corrupt 
form of the Chhattlsgarhi dialect of Hindi. It is probable 
that they belong to the Dravidian tribal family. 

The Kawars have the following eight endogamous 
divisions : Tan war, Kamalban.~i, Paikara, Dudh- Kawar, 
Rathia, Chanti, Cherwa and Rautia. The Tanwar group, 
also known as Umrao, is that to which the zamlndars belong, 
and they now claim to be Tomara Rajputs, and wear the 
sacred thread. They prohibit widow-remarriage, and do not 
eat fowls or drink liquor ; but they have not yet induced 
Brahmans to take water from them or Rajputs to accept their 
daughters in marriage. The name Tanwar is not improbably 
simply a corruption of Kawar, and they are also altering 
their sept names to make them resemble those of eponymous 
Brahmanical gotras. Thus Dhangur, the name of a sept, has 
been altered to Dhananjaya, and Sarvaria to Sandilya. Telasi 
is the name of a sept to which four zamlndars belong, and is 
on this account sometimes returned as their caste by other 
Kawars, who consider it as a distinction. The zamindari 
families have now, however, changed the name Telasi to 
Kairava. The Paikaras are the most numerous subtribe, 
being three-fifths of the total. They derive their name from 
Paik, a foot-soldier, and formerly followed this occupation, 
being employed in the armies of the Haihaivansi Rajas of 
Ratanpur. They still worship a two-edged sword, known 
as the Jhagra Khand, or ' Sword of Strife,' on the day of 
Dasahra. The Kamalbansi, or ' Stock of the Lotus,' may be 
so called as being the oldest subdivision ; for the lotus is 
sometimes considered the root of all things, on account of 
the belief that Brahma, the creator of the world, was himself 
born from this flower. In Bilaspur the Kamalbansis are 
considered to rank next after the Tanwars or zamlndars' 
group. Colonel Dalton states that the term Dudh or ' Milk ' 
Kawar has the signification of ' Cream of the Kawars,' and 


he considered this subcaste to be the highest. The Rathias 
are a territorial group, being immigrants from Rath, a wild 
tract of the Raigarh State. The Rautias are probably the 
descendants of Kawar fathers and mothers of the Rawat 
(herdsman) caste. The traditional connection of the Kawars 
with a Rawat has already been mentioned, and even now if a 
Kawar marries a Rawat girl she will be admitted into the 
tribe, and the children will become full Kawars. Similarly, 
the Rawats have a Kauria subcaste, who are also probably 
the offspring of mixed marriages ; and if a Kawar girl is 
seduced by a Kauria Rawat, she is not expelled from the 
tribe, as she would be for a liaison with any other man who 
was not a Kawar. This connection is no doubt due to the 
fact that until recently the Kawars and Rawats, who are 
themselves a very mixed caste, were accustomed to inter- 
marry. At the census persons returned as Rautia were 
included in the Kol tribe, which has a subdivision of that 
name. But Mr. Hlra Lai's inquiries establish the fact that 
in Chhattlsgarh they are undoubtedly Kawars. The Cherwas 
are probably another hybrid group descended from connections 
formed by Kawars with girls of the Chero tribe of Chota 
Nagpur. The Chanti, who derive their name from the ant, 
are considered to be the lowest group, as that insect is the 
most insignificant of living things. Of the above subcastes 
the Tanwars are naturally the highest, while the Chanti, 
Cherwa and Rautia, who keep pigs, are considered as the 
lowest. The others occupy an intermediate position. None 
of the subcastes will eat together, except at the houses of 
their zamlndars, from whom they will all take food. But the 
Kawars of the Chhuri estate no longer attend the feasts of 
their zamindar, for the following curious reason. One of the 
latter's village thekadars or farmers had got the hide taken 
off a dead buffalo so as to keep it for his own use, instead of 
making the body over to a Chamar (tanner). The caste- 
fellows saw no harm in this act, but it offended the zamlndar's 
more orthodox Hindu conscience. Soon afterwards, at some 
marriage-feast of his family, when the Kawars of his zamlndari 
attended in accordance with the usual custom, he remarked, 
' Here come our Chamars,' or words to that effect. The 
Chhuri Kawars were insulted, and the more so because the 



Pendra zamlndar and other outsiders were present. So they 
declined to take food any longer from their zamlndar. They 
continued to accept it, however, from the other zamlndars, 
until their master of Chhuri represented to them that this 
would result in a slur being put upon his standing among 
his fellows. So they have now given up taking food from 
any zamlndar. 

The tribe have a large number of exogamous septs, 
which are generally totemistic or named after plants and 
animals. The names of 1 1 7 septs have been recorded, and 
there are probably even more. The following list gives a 
selection of the names : 

Andll . . 

. Born from 

an egg. 


. . A wolf. 

Bagh . . 

. Tiger. 

Janta . 

. Grinding-mill. 

Bichhi . 

. Scorpion. 

Kothi . 

. A store-house. 

Bilwa . 

Wild cat. 


. A leaf-umbrella. 


. Goat. 


. A wild dog. 


. Moon. 


. Maternal uncle. 

Chanwar . 

. A whisk. 


. The deity. 

Chita . 

. Leopard. 


ia . A packet of salt. 

Chuva . 

. A well. 

Sendur . 

. Vermilion. 

Champa . 

. A sweet- 



. A parrot. 



. Oily. 


. A pounding-lever. 

Thath Murra Pressed in a sugar- 

Darpan . 

. A mirror. 

cane press. 


. A dung insect. 

Generally it may be said that every common animal or 
bird and even articles of food or dress and household imple- 
ments have given their names to a sept. In the Paikara 
subcaste a figure of the plant or animal after which the sept 
is named is made by each party at the time of marriage. 
Thus a bridegroom of the Bagh or tiger sept prepares a small 
image of a tiger with flour and bakes it in oil ; this he shows 
to the bride's family to represent, as it were, his pedigree, or 
prove his legitimacy ; while she on her part, assuming that 
she is, say, of the Bilwa or cat sept, will bring a similar image 
of a cat with her in proof of her origin. The Andll sept make 
a representation of a hen sitting on eggs. They do not 
worship the totem animal or plant, but when they learn of 
the death of one of the species, they throw away an earthen 
cooking-pot as a sign of mourning. They generally think 
themselves descended from the totem animal or plant, but 


when the sept is called after some inanimate object, such as 
a grinding-mill or pounding-lever, they repudiate the idea of 
descent from it, and are at a loss to account for the origin 
of the name. Those whose septs are named after plants or 
animals usually abstain from injuring or cutting them, but 
where this rule would cause too much inconvenience it is 
transgressed : thus the members of the Karsayal or deer sept 
find it too hard for them to abjure the flesh of that animal, 
nor can those of the Bokra sept abstain from eating goats. 
In some cases new septs have been formed by a conjunction 
of the names of two others, as Bagh-Daharia, Gauriya- 
Sonwani, and so on. These may possibly be analogous to 
the use of double names in English, a family of one sept 
when it has contracted a marriage with another of better 
position adding the latter's name to its own as a slight 
distinction. But it may also simply arise from the constant 
tendency to increase the number of septs in order to remove 
difficulties from the arrangement of matches. 

Marriage within the same sept is prohibited and 4 . Be- 
also between the children of brothers and sisters. A troth f 1 _ and 
man may not marry his wife's elder sister but he can take 
her younger one in her lifetime. Marriage is usually adult 
and, contrary to the Hindu rule, the proposal for a 
match always comes from the boy's father, as a man would 
think it undignified to try and find a husband for his 
daughter. The Kawar says, ' Shall my daughter leap over 
the wall to get a husband.' In consequence of this girls 
not infrequently remain unmarried until a comparatively late 
age, especially in the zamlndari families where the provision 
of a husband of suitable rank may be difficult. Having 
selected a bride for his son the boy's father sends some 
friends to her village, and they address a friend of the girl's 
family, saying, " So-and-so (giving his name and village) 
would like to have a cup of pej (boiled rice-water) from you ; 
what do you say ? " The proposal is communicated to the 
girl's family, and if they approve of it they commence prepar- 
ing the rice-water, which is partaken of by the parties and 
their friends. If the bride's people do not begin cooking 
the pej, it is understood that the proposal is rejected. The 
ceremony of betrothal comes next, when the boy's party go to 


394 KA WAR part 

the girl's house with a present of bangles, clothes, and fried 
cakes of rice and urad carried by a Kaurai Rawat. They also 
take with them the bride -price, known as Suk, which is 
made up of cash, husked or unhusked rice, pulses and oil. It is 
a fixed amount, but differs for each subcaste, and the average 
value is about Rs. 25. To this is added three or four goats 
to be consumed at the wedding. If a widower marries a 
girl, a larger bride-price is exacted. The wedding follows, 
and in many respects conforms to the ordinary Hindu ritual, 
but Brahmans are not employed. The bridegroom's party is 
accompanied by tomtom-players on its way to the wedding, 
and as each village is approached plenty of noise is made, 
so that the residents may come out and admire the dresses, 
a great part of whose merit consists in their antiquity, 
while the wearer delights in recounting to any who will 
listen the history of his garb and of his distinguished ances- 
tors who have worn it. The marriage is performed by 
walking round the sacred pole, six times on one day and 
once on the following day. After the marriage the bride's 
parents wash the feet of the couple in milk, and then drink 
it in atonement for the sin committed in bringing their 
daughter into the world. The couple then return home 
to the bridegroom's house, where all the ceremonies are 
repeated, as it is said that otherwise his courtyard would 
remain unmarried. On the following day the couple go and 
bathe in a tank, where each throws five pots full of water 
over the other. And on their return the bridegroom shoots 
arrows at seven straw images of deer over his wife's 
shoulder, and after each shot she puts a little sugar in his 
mouth. This is a common ceremony among the forest 
tribes, and symbolises the idea that the man will support him- 
self and his wife by hunting. On the fourth day the bride 
returns to her father's house. She visits her husband for 
two or three months in the following month of Asarh 
(June-July), but again goes home to play what is known 
as ' The game of Gauri,' Gauri being the name of Siva's 
consort. The young men and girls of the village assemble 
round her in the evening, and the girls sing songs while the 
men play on drums. An obscene representation of Gauri 
is made, and some of them pretend to be possessed by the 


deity, while the men beat the girls with ropes of grass. 
After she has enjoyed this amusement with her mates for 
some three months, the bride finally goes to her husband's 

The wedding expenses come to about seventy rupees 5. Other 
on the bridegroom's part in an ordinary marriage, while connected 
the bride's family spend the amount of the bride -price with mar- 
and a few rupees more. If the parties are poor the cere- 
mony can be curtailed so far as to provide food for only 
five guests. It is permissible for two families to effect an 
exchange of girls in lieu of payment of the bride-price, this 
practice being known as Gunrawat. Or a prospective bride- 
groom may give his services for three or four years instead 
of a price. The system of serving for a wife is known as 
Gharjian, and is generally resorted to by widows having 
daughters. A girl going wrong with a Kawar or with a 
Kaurai Rawat before marriage may be pardoned with the 
exaction of a feast from her parents. For a liaison with any 
other outsider she is finally expelled, and the exception of 
the Kaurai Ravvats shows that they are recognised as in 
reality Kawars. Widow-remarria»e is permitted except in 
the Tanwar subcaste. New bangles and clothes are given 
to the widow, and the pair then stand under the eaves of the 
house ; the bridegroom touches the woman's ear or puts a 
rolled mango-leaf into it, and she becomes his wife. If a 
widower marries a girl for his third wife it is considered 
unlucky for her. An earthen image of a woman is there- 
fore made, and he goes through the marriage ceremony with 
it; he then throws the image to the ground so that it is 
broken, when it is considered to be dead and its funeral 
ceremony is performed. After this the widower may marry 
the girl, who becomes his fourth wife. Such cases are 
naturally very rare. If a widow marries her deceased 
husband's younger brother, which is considered the most 
suitable match, the children by her first husband rank 
equally with those of the second. If she marries outside 
the family her children and property remain with her first 
husband's relatives. 

Dalton l records that the Kawars of Sarguja had adopted 

1 Ethnology, p. 158. 

396 KA WAR part 

the practice of sati : " I found that the Kawars of Sarguja 
encouraged widows to become Satis and greatly venerated 
those who did so. Sati shrines are not uncommon in the 
Tributary Mahals. Between Partabpur and Jhilmili in 
Sarguja I encamped in a grove sacred to a Kauraini Sati. 
Several generations have elapsed since the self-sacrifice 
that led to her canonisation, but she is now the principal 
object of worship in the village and neighbourhood, and 
I was informed that every year a fowl was sacrificed 
to her, and every third year a black goat. The Hindus 
with me were intensely amused at the idea of offering 
fowls to a Sati ! " Polygamy is permitted, but is not 
common. Members of the Tanwar subtribe, when they have 
occasion to do so, will take the daughters of Kawars of other 
groups for wives, though they will not give their daughters 
to them. Such marriages are generally made clandestinely, 
and it has become doubtful as to whether some families are 
true Tanwars. The zamlndars have therefore introduced a 
rule that no family can be recognised as a Tanwar for 
purposes of marriage unless it has a certificate to that effect 
signed by the zamlndar. Some of the zamlndars charge 
considerable sums for these certificates, and all cannot afford 
them ; but in that case they are usually unable to get 
husbands for their daughters, who remain unwed. Divorce 
is permitted for serious disagreement or bad conduct on the 
part of the wife. 
6. Child- During childbirth the mother sits on the ground with 

her legs apart, and her back against the wall or supported 
by another woman. The umbilical cord is cut by the mid- 
wife : if the parents wish the boy to become eloquent she 
buries it in the village Council-place ; or if they wish him to 
be a good trader, in the market ; or if they desire him to be 
pious, before some shrine ; in the case of a girl the cord is 
usually buried in a dung-heap, which is regarded as an 
emblem of fertility. As is usual in Chhattlsgarh, the mother 
receives no food or water for three days after the birth of a 
child. On the fifth day she is given regular food and on 
that day the house is purified. Five months after birth the 
lips of the child are touched with rice and milk and it is 
named. When twins are born a metal vessel is broken to 



sever the connection between them, as it is believed that 
otherwise they must die at the same time. If a boy is born 
after three girls he is called titura, and a girl after three 
boys, tituri. There is a saying that ' A titura child either 
fills the storehouse or empties it ' ; that is, his parents either 
become rich or penniless. To avert ill-luck in this case oil 
and salt are thrown away, and the mother gives one of her 
bangles to the midwife. 

The dead are usually buried, though well-to-do 7. Disposal 
families have adopted cremation. The corpse is laid on its ^j] e 
side in the grave, with head to the north and face to the 
east. A little til y cotton, urad and rice are thrown on the 
grave to serve as seed-grain for the dead man's cultivation 
in the other world. A dish, a drinking vessel and a cooking- 
pot are placed on the grave with the same idea, but are 
afterwards taken away by the Dhobi (washerman). They 
observe mourning for ten days for a man, nine days for a 
woman, and three days for children under three years old. 
During the period of mourning the chief mourner keeps a 
knife beside him, so that the iron may ward off the attacks 
of evil spirits, to which he is believed to be peculiarly exposed. 
The ordinary rules of abstinence and retirement are observed 
during mourning. In the case of cremation the ceremonies 
are very elaborate and generally resemble those of the 
Hindus. When the corpse is half burnt, all the men present 
throw five pieces of wood on to the pyre, and a number of 
pieces are carried in a winnowing fan to the dead man's 
house, where they are touched by the women and then 
brought back and thrown on to the fire. After the funeral 
the mourners bathe and return home walking one behind 
the other in Indian file. When they come to a cross-road, 
the foremost man picks up a pebble with his left foot, and 
it is passed from hand to hand down the line of men until 
the hindmost throws it away. This is supposed to sever 
their connection with the spirit of the deceased and prevent 
it from following them home. On the third day they return 
to the cremation ground to collect the ashes and bones. 
A Brahman is called who cooks a preparation of milk and 
rice at the head of the corpse, boils urad pulse at its feet, 
and bakes eight wheaten cliapdtis at the sides. This food 

39 8 KAWAR part 

is placed in leaf-cups at two corners of the ground. The 
mourners sprinkle cow's urine and milk over the bones, and 
picking them up with a palds {Butea frondosd) stick, wash 
them in milk and deposit them in a new earthen pot until 
such time as they can be carried to the Ganges. The 
bodies of men dying of smallpox must never be burnt, 
because that would be equivalent to destroying the goddess, 
incarnate in the body. The corpses of cholera patients are 
buried in order to dispose of them at once, and are some- 
times exhumed subsequently within a period of six months 
and cremated. In such a cas~ the Kawars spread a layer 
of unhusked rice in the grave, and address a prayer to the 
earth-goddess stating that the body has been placed with 
her on deposit, and asking that she will give it back intact 
when they call upon her for it. They believe that in such 
cases the process of decay is arrested for six months. 
8 Laving When a man has been killed by a tiger they have a 

spirits. ceremony called ' Breaking the string,' or the connection 
which they believe the animal establishes with a family on 
having tasted its blood. Otherwise they think that the 
tiger would gradually kill off all the remaining members of 
the family of his victim, and when he had finished with 
them would proceed to other families in the same village. 
This curious belief is no doubt confirmed by the tiger's 
habit of frequenting the locality of a village from which it 
has once obtained a victim, in the natural expectation that 
others may be forthcoming from the same source. In this 
ceremony the village Baiga or medicine-man is painted with 
red ochre and soot to represent the tiger, and proceeds to 
the place where the victim was carried off. Having picked 
up some of the blood-stained earth in his mouth, he tries to 
run away to the jungle, but the spectators hold him back 
until he spits out the earth. This represents the tiger being 
forced to give up his victim. The Baiga then ties a string 
round all the members of the dead man's family standing 
together ; he places some grain before a fowl saying, ' If my 
charm has worked, eat of this ' ; and as soon as the fowl 
has eaten some grain the Baiga states that his efforts have 
been successful and the attraction of the man-eater has been 
broken ; he then breaks the string and all the party return 

ii RELIGION 399 

to the village. A similar ceremony is performed when a 
man has died of snake-bite. 

The religion of the Kawars is entirely of an animistic 9. Reii- 
character. They have a vague idea of a supreme deity gl0n ' 
whom they call Bhagwan and identify with the sun. They 
bow to him in reverence, but do no more as he does not 
interfere with men's concerns. They also have a host of 
local and tribal deities, of whom the principal is the Jhagra 
Khand or two-edged sword, already mentioned. The tiger 
is deified as Bagharra Deo and worshipped in every village 
for the protection of cattle from wild animals. They are 
also in great fear of a mythical snake with a red crest on 
its head, the mere sight of which is believed to cause death. 
It lives in deep pools in the forest which are known as 
ShesJi Kund, and when it moves the grass along its track 
takes fire. If a man crosses its track his colour turns to 
black and he suffers excruciating pains which end in death, 
unless he is relieved by the Baiga. In one village where 
the snake was said to have recently appeared, the proprietor 
was so afraid of it that he never went out to his field with- 
out first offering a chicken. They have various local deities, 
of which the Mandwa Rani or goddess of the Mandwa hill 
in Korba zamlndari may be noticed as an example. She is 
a mild-hearted maiden who puts people right when they 
have gone astray in the forest, or provides them with food 
for the night and guides them to the water-springs on her 
hill. Recently a wayfarer had lost his path when she 
appeared and, guiding him into it, gave him a basket of 
brinjals. 1 As the traveller proceeded he felt his burden 
growing heavier and heavier on his head, and finally on 
inspecting it found that the goddess had played a little 
joke on him and the brinjals had turned into stones. The 
Kawars implicitly believe this story. Rivers are tenanted 
by a set of goddesses called the Sat Bahini or seven sisters. 
They delight in playing near waterfalls, holding up the 
water and suddenly letting it drop. Trees are believed to 
be harmless sentient beings, except when occasionally 
possessed by evil spirits, such as the ghosts of man-eating 
tigers. Sometimes a tree catches hold of a cow's tail as the 

1 Fruit of the egg-plant. 

400 KAIVAR part 

animal passes by and winds it up over a branch, and many 
cattle have lost their tails in this way. Every tank in 
which the lotus grows is tenanted by Purainha, the godling 
who tends this plant. The sword, the gun, the axe, the 
spear have each a special deity, and, in fact, in the Banga- 
wan, the tract where the wilder Kawars dwell, it is believed 
that every article of household furniture is the residence of 
a spirit, and that if any one steals or injures it without the 
owner's leave, the spirit will bring some misfortune on him 
in revenge. Theft is said to be unknown among them, 
partly on this account and partly, perhaps, because no one 
has much property worth stealing. Instances of deified 
human beings are Kolin Sati, a Kol concubine of a zamlndar 
of Pendra who died during pregnancy, and Sarangarhni, a 
Ghasia woman who was believed to have been the mistress 
of a Raja of Sarangarh and was murdered. Both are now 
Kawar deities. Thakur Deo is the deity of agriculture, 
and is worshipped by the whole village in concert at the 
commencement of the rains. Rice is brought by each 
cultivator and offered to the god, a little being sown at his 
shrine and the remainder taken home and mixed with the 
seed-grain to give it fertility. Two bachelors carry water 
round the village and sprinkle it on the brass plates of the 
cultivators or the roofs of their houses in imitation of rain. 
10. Magic The belief in witchcraft is universal and every 

village has its tonhi or witch, to whom epidemic diseases, 
sudden illnesses and other calamities are ascribed. The 
witch is nearly always some unpopular old woman, and 
several instances are known of the murder of these un- 
fortunate creatures, after their crimes had been proclaimed 
by the Baiga or medicine-man. In the famine of 1900 an 
old woman from another village came and joined one of the 
famine-kitchens. A few days afterwards the village watch- 
man got ill, and when the Baiga was called in he said the 
old woman was a witch who had vowed the lives of twenty 
children to her goddess, and had joined the kitchen to kill 
them. The woman was threatened with a beating with 
castor-oil plants if she did not leave the village, and as the 
kitchen officer refused to supply her with food, she had to 
go. The Baiga takes action to stop and keep off epidemics 

and witch- 

ii DRESS 401 

by the methods common in Chhattisgarh villages. When a 
woman asks him to procure her offspring, the Baiga sits 
dharna in front of Devi's shrine and fasts until the goddess, 
wearied by his importunity, descends on him and causes 
him to prophesy the birth of a child. They have the usual 
belief in imitative and sympathetic magic. If a person is 
wounded by an axe he throws it first into fire and then into 
cold water. By the first operation he thinks to dry up the 
wound and prevent its festering, and by the second to keep 
it cool. Thin and lean children are weighed in a balance 
against moist cowdung with the idea that they will swell 
out as the dung dries up. In order to make a bullock's 
hump grow, a large grain-measure is placed over it. If 
cattle go astray an iron implement is placed in a pitcher of 
water, and it is believed that this will keep wild animals off 
the cattle, though the connection of ideas is obscure. To 
cure intermittent fever a man walks through a narrow 
passage between two houses. If the children in a family 
die, the Baiga takes the parents outside the village and 
breaks the stem of some plant in their presence. After this 
they never again touch that particular plant, and it is be- 
lieved that their children will not die. Tuesday is considered 
the best day for weddings, Thursday and Monday for 
beginning field-work and Saturday for worshipping the gods. 
To have bats in one's granary is considered to be fortunate, 
and there is a large harmless snake which, they say, pro- 
duces fertility when it makes its home in a field. If a crow 
caws on the house-top they consider that the arrival of. a 
guest is portended. A snake or a cat crossing the road in 
front and a man sneezing are bad omens. 

The dress of the Kawars presents no special features n. Dress, 
calling for remark. Women wear pewter ornaments on the 
feet, and silver or pewter rings on the neck. They decorate 
the ears with silver pendants, but as a rule do not wear 
nose-rings. Women are tattooed on the breast with a figure 
of Krishna, on the arms with that of a deer, and on the 
legs with miscellaneous patterns. The operation is carried 
out immediately after marriage in accordance with the usual 
custom in Chhattlsgarh. 

The tribe consider military service to be their tradi- 
VOL. Ill 2 D 

4 o2 KA WAR part 

i cu- tional occupation, but the bulk of them are now cultivators 
""' and labourers. Many of them are farmers of villages in the 
zamlndaris. Rautias weave ropes and make sleeping-cots, 
but the other Kawars consider such work to be degrading. 
They have the ordinary Hindu rules of inheritance, but a 
son claiming partition in his father's lifetime is entitled to 
two bullocks and nothing more. When the property is 
divided on the death of the father, the eldest son receives 
an allowance known as jitliai over and above his share, this 
being a common custom in the Chhattlsgarh country where 
the Kawars reside. The tribe do not admit outsiders with 
the exception of Kaurai Rawat girls married to Kawars. 
They have a tribal panchdyat or committee, the head of 
which is known as Pardhan. Its proceedings are generally 
very deliberate, and this has led to the saying : " The 
Ganda's panchdyat always ends in a quarrel ; the Gond's 
panchdyat cares only for the feast ; and the Kawar's 
pancJidyat takes a year to make up its mind." But when the 
Kawars have decided, they act with vigour. They require 
numerous goats as fines for the caste feast, and these, with 
fried urad, form the regular provision. Liquor, however, is 
only sparingly consumed. Temporary exclusion from caste 
is imposed for the usual offences, which include going to 
jail, getting the ears split, or getting maggots in a wound. 
The last is the most serious offence, and when the culprit 
is readmitted to social intercourse the Dhobi (washerman) is 
employed to eat with him first from five different plates, thus 
talking upon himself any risk of contagion from the impurity 
which may still remain. The Kawar eats flesh, fowls and 
pork, but abjures beef, crocodiles, monkeys and reptiles. 
From birds he selects the parrot, dove, pigeon, quail and 
partridge as fit for food. He will not eat meat sold in 
market because he considers it haldli or killed in the 
Muhammadan fashion, and therefore impure. He also 
refuses a particular species of fish called rechha, which is 
black and fleshy and has been nicknamed ' The Teli's 
bullock.' The higher subtribes have now given up eating 
pork and the Tanwars abstain from fowls also. The Kawars 
will take food only from a Gond or a Kaurai Rawat, and 
Gonds will also take food from them. In appearance and 


manners they greatly resemble the Gonds, from whom they 
are hardly distinguished by the Hindus. Dalton ' described 
them as "A dark, coarse-featured, broad-nosed, wide-mouthed 
and thick-lipped race, decidedly ugly, but taller and better set 
up than most of the other tribes. I have also found them 
a clean, well-to-do, industrious people, living in comfort- 
able, carefully-constructed and healthily-kept houses and well 

Of their method of dancing Ball 2 writes as follows : 
" In the evening some of the villagers — Kaurs they were 
I believe — entertained us with a dance, which was very 
different from anything seen among the Santals or Kols. A 
number of men performed a kind of ladies' chain, striking 
together as they passed one another's pronged sticks which 
they carried in their hands. By foot, hand and voice the 
time given by a tom-tom is most admirably kept." 

1 Ethnology, pp. 136, 137. 2 Jungle Life in India, pp. 315, 316. 



7. Subcastes. 

8. Exogamy. 

9. Marriage customs. 

10. Marriage songs. 

1 1 . Social rules. 

12. Birth Customs. 

13. Religion. 

1 4. Social customs. 
1 5 . Occupation. 

General notice and legend of 

The origin of the caste. 
The rise of the Kayasths under 

foreign rulers. 
The original profession of the 

The caste an offshoot from 

The success of the Kayasths 

and their present position. 

1. General 
notice and 
legend of 

Kayasth, 1 Kaith, Lala. — The caste of writers and village 
accountants. The Kayasths numbered 34,000 persons in 
191 1 and were found over the whole Province, but they 
are most numerous in the Saugor, Damoh, Jubbulpore and 
Narsinghpur Districts. In the Maratha country their place 
is to some extent taken by the Prabhus, the Maratha writer 
caste, and also by the Vidurs. No probable derivation of 
the name Kayasth appears to have been suggested. The 
earliest reference to Kayasths appears in an inscription in 
Malwa dated A.D. 738—739. The inscription is of a Maurya 
king, and the term Kayasth is used there as a proper noun 
to mean a writer. Another dated A.D. 987 is written by 
a Kayasth named Kanchana. An inscription on the Delhi 
Siwalik pillar dated A.D. 1 1 64 is stated to have been written 
by a Kayasth named Sispati, the son of Mahava, by the 
king's command. The inscription adds that the Kayasth 
was of Gauda (Bengal) descent, and the term Kayasth is 

1 This article is based partly on 
papers by Munshi Kanhya Lai of the 
Gazetteer office, Mr. Sundar Lai, Extra 

Assistant Commissioner, Saugor, and 
Mr. J. N. Sil, Pleader, Seoni. 



here used in the sense of a member of the Kayasth caste 
and not simply meaning a writer as in the Malwa inscrip- 
tion. 1 From the above account it seems possible that the caste 
was of comparatively late origin. According to their own 
legend the first progenitor of the Kayasths was Chitragupta, 
who was created by Brahma from his own body and given 
to Yama the king of the dead, to record the good and 
evil actions of all beings, and produce the result when they 
arrived in the kingdom of the dead. Chitragupta was called 
Kayastha, from kaya stJia, existing in or incorporate in the 
body, because he was in the body of Brahma. Chitragupta 
was born of a dark complexion, and having a pen and 
ink-pot in his hand. He married two wives, the elder being 
the granddaughter of the sun, who bore him four sons, while 
the younger was the daughter of a Brahman Rishi, and 
by her he had eight sons. These sons were married to 
princesses of the Naga or snake race ; the Nagas are 
supposed to have been the early nomad invaders from 
Central Asia, or Scythians. The twelve sons were entrusted 
with the government of different parts of India and the 
twelve subcastes of Kayasths are named after these localities. 

There has been much discussion on the origin of the 2. The 
Kayasth caste, which now occupies a high social position ^caste 
owing to the ability and industry of its members and their 
attainment of good positions in the public services. All 
indications, however, point to the fact that the caste has 
obtained within a comparatively recent period a great rise 
in social status, and formerly ranked much lower than it 
does now. Dr. Bhattacharya states : 2 " The Kayasths of 
Bengal are described in some of the Hindu sacred books 
as Kshatriyas, but the majority of the Kayasth clans do 
not wear the sacred thread, and admit their status as Sudra 
also by the observance of mourning for thirty days. But 
whether Kshatriya or Sudra, they belong to the upper 
layer of Hindu society, and though the higher classes of 
Brahmans neither perform their religious ceremonies nor 
enlist them among their disciples, yet the gifts of the 
Kayasths are usually accepted by the great Pandits of the 

1 Hindus of Gujarat, p. 59, quoting from Ind. Ant. vi. 1 92- 1 93. 
2 Hindu Castes and Sects, p. 175. 

4 o6 KAYASTH part 

country without hesitation." There is no doubt that a 
hundred years ago the Kayasths of Bengal and Bihar 
were commonly looked upon as Sudras. Dr. Buchanan, 
an excellent observer, states this several times. In Bihar 
he says that the Kayasths are the chief caste who are 
looked upon by all as pure Sudras and do not reject the 
appellation. 1 And again that " Pandits in Gorakhpur insist 
that Kayasths are mere Sudras, but on account of their 
influence included among gentry (Ashraf). All who have 
been long settled in the district live pure and endeavour to 
elevate themselves ; but this hss failed of success as kindred 
from other countries who still drink liquor and eat meat 
come and sit on the same mat with them." 2 Again he 
calls the Kayasths the highest Sudras next to Vaidyas. 3 
And " In Bihar the penmen (Kayasthas) are placed next 
to the Kshatris and by the Brahmans are considered as 
illegitimate, to whom the rank of Sudras has been given, 
and in general they do not presume to be angry at this 
decision, which in Bengal would be highly offensive. 4 
Colebrooke remarks of the caste : " Karana, from a Vaishya 
by a woman of the Sudra class, is an attendant on princes 
or secretary. The appellation of Kayastha is in general 
considered as synonymous with Karana ; and accordingly 
the Karana tribe commonly assumes the name of Kayastha ; 
but the Kayasthas of Bengal have pretensions to be con- 
sidered as true Sudras, which the Jatimala seems to authorise, 
for the origin of the Kayastha is there mentioned before the 
subject of mixed castes is introduced, immediately after 
describing the Gopa as a true Sudra." 5 Similarly Colonel 
Dalton says : " I believe that in the present day the 
Kayasths arrogate to themselves the position of first among 
commoners, or first of the Sudras, but their origin is involved 
in some mystery. Intelligent Kayasths make no pretension 
to be other than Sudras." 6 In his Census Report of the 
United Provinces Mr. R. Burn discusses the subject as 
follows : 7 " On the authority of these Puranic accounts, and 
in view of the fact that the Kayasths observe certain of the 

1 Eastern India, i. p. 162. •' Essays, vol. ii. p. 182. 

2 Ibidem, ii. p. 466. 6 Ethnology of Bengal, pp. 312, 313. 

3 Ibide?n, ii. p. 736. 7 United Provinces Census Report 

4 Ibidem, ii. p. 122. (1901), pp. 222-223. 


Sanskars in the same method as is prescribed for Kshatriyas, 
the Pandits of several places have given formal opinions 
that the Kayasths are Kshatriyas. On the other hand, there 
is not the slightest doubt that the Kayasths are commonly 
regarded either as a mixed caste, with some relationship to 
two if not three of the twice-born castes, or as Sudras. This 
is openly stated in some of the reports, and not a single 
Hindu who was not a Kayasth of the many I have 
personally asked about the matter would admit privately 
that the Kayasths are twice -born, and the same opinion 
was expressed by Muhammadans, who were in a position to 
gauge the ordinary ideas held by Hindus, and are entirely 
free from prejudice in the matter. One of the most highly 
respected orthodox Brahmans in the Provinces wrote to me 
confirming this opinion, and at the same time asked that his 
name might not be published in connection with it. The 
matter has been very minutely examined in a paper sent up 
by a member of the Benares committee who came to the 
conclusion that while the Kayasths have been declared to 
be Kshatriyas in the Puranas, by Pandits, and in several 
judgments of subordinate courts, and to be Sudras by 
Manu and various commentators on him, by public opinion, 
and in a judgment of the High Court of Calcutta, they are 
really of Brahmanical origin. He holds that those who 
to-day follow literary occupations are the descendants of 
Chitragupta by his Brahman and Kshatriya wives, that the 
so-called Unaya Kayasths are descended from Vaishya 
mothers, and the tailors and cobblers from Sudra mothers. 
It is possible to trace to some extent points which have 
affected public opinion on this question. The Kayasths 
themselves admit that in the past their reputation as hard 
drinkers was not altogether unmerited, but they deserve the 
highest credit for the improvements which have been effected 
in this regard. There is also a widespread belief that the 
existing general observance by Kayasths of the ceremonies 
prescribed for the twice-born castes, especially in the matter 
of wearing the sacred thread, is comparatively recent. It 
is almost superfluous to add that notwithstanding the theo- 
retical views held as to their origin and position, Kayasths 
undoubtededly rank high in the social scale. All European 



3. The rise 
of the 



writers have borne testimony to their excellence and success 
in many walks of life, and even before the commencement of 
British power many Kayasths occupied high social positions 
and enjoyed the confidence of their rulers." 

It appears then a legitimate conclusion from the evidence 
that the claim of the Kayasths to be Kshatriyas is compara- 
tively recent, and that a century ago they occupied a very 
much lower social position than they do now. We do not 
find them playing any prominent part in the early or mediaeval 
Hindu kingdoms. There is considerable reason for sup- 
posing that their rise to importance took place under the 
foreign or non - Hindu governments in India. Thus a 
prominent Kayasth gentleman says of his own caste : 1 
" The people of this caste were the first to learn Persian, the 
language of the Muhammadan invaders of India, and to 
obtain the posts of accountants and revenue collectors under 
Muhammadan kings. Their chief occupation is Government 
service, and if one of the caste adopts any other profession he 
is degraded in the estimation of his caste-fellows." Malcolm 
states: 2 "When the Muhammadans invaded Hindustan and 
conquered its Rajput princes, we may conclude that the 
Brahmans of that country who possessed knowledge or 
distinction fled from their intolerance and violence ; but 
the conquerors found in the Kayastha or Kaith tribe more 
pliable and better instruments for the conduct of the details 
of their new Government. This tribe had few religious 
scruples, as they stand low in the scale of Hindus. They 
were, according to their own records, which there is no 
reason to question, qualified by their previous employment 
in all affairs of state ; and to render themselves completely 
useful had only to add the language of their new masters 
to those with which they were already acquainted. The 
Muhammadans carried these Hindus into their southern 
conquests, and they spread over the countries of Central India 
and the Deccan ; and some families who are Kanungos 3 of 

1 Lala Jvvala Prasad, Extra Assistant 
Commissioner, in Sir E. A Maclagan's 
Punjab Census Report for 189 1. 

2 Memoir of Centra/ India, vol. ii. 
pp. 165-166. 

3 The Kanungo maintains the 
statistical registers of land -revenue, 
rent, cultivation, cropping, etc., for 
the District as a whole which are 
compiled from those prepared by 
the patwaris for each village. 


districts and patwaris of villages trace their settlement in 
this country from the earliest Muhammadan conquest." 
Similarly the Bombay Gazetteer states that under the arrange- 
ments made by the Emperor Akbar, the work of collecting 
the revenues of the twenty-eight Districts subordinate to Surat 
was entrusted to Kayasths. 1 And the Mathur Kayasths of 
Gujarat came from Mathura in the train of the Mughal 
viceroys as their clerks and interpreters. 2 Under the 
Muhammadans and for some time after the introduction of 
English rule, a knowledge of Persian was required in a 
Government clerk, and in this language most of the Kayasths 
were proficient, and some were excellent clerks. 3 Kayasths 
attained very high positions under the Muhammadan kings 
of Bengal and were in charge of the revenue department 
under the Nawabs of Murshldabad ; while Rai Durlao 
Ram, prime minister of Ali Verdi Khan, was a Kayasth. 
The governors of Bihar in the period between the battle of 
Plassey and the removal of the exchequer to Calcutta were 
also Kayasths. 4 The Bhatnagar Kayasths, it is said, came 
to Bengal at the time of the Muhammadan conquest. 5 Under 
the Muhammadan kings of Oudh, too, numerous Kayasths 
occupied posts of high trust. 6 Similarly the Kayasths entered 
the service of the Gond kings of the Central Provinces. It 
is said that when the Gond ruler Bakht Buland of Deogarh 
in Chhind wara went to Delhi, he brought a number of Kayasths 
back with him and introduced them into the administration. 
One of these was appointed Bakshi or paymaster to the 
army of Bakht Buland. His descendant is a leading land- 
holder in the Seoni District with an estate of eighty-four 
villages. Another Kayasth landholder of Jubbulpore and 

' Hindus of Gujarat, p. 60. country and one of them laid down 

' Ibidem, p. 64. rules for the structure and inter - 

3 Ibidem, p. 61. marriage of the Brahman caste, it is 

4 Bhattacharya, Hindu Castes and practically impossible that they could 
Sects, p. 177. It is true that Dr. have been Kayasths. The Muham- 
Bhattacharya states that the Kayasths madan conquest of Bengal took place 
were also largely employed under the at an early period, and very little 
Hindu kings of Bengal, but he gives detail is known about the preceding 
no authority for this. The Gaur Hindu dynasties. 

Kayasths also claim that the Sena 5 Risley, Tribes and Castes of Bengal, 

kings of Bengal were of their caste, art. Bihar Kayasth. 
but considering that these kings were 6 Sherring, Tribes and Castes, vol. 

looked on as spiritual heads of the iii. pp. 253-254. 

4 io KAYASTH part 

Mandla occupied some similar position in the service of the 
Gond kings of Garha-Mandla. 

Finally in the English administration the Kayasths at 
first monopolised the ministerial service. In the United 
Provinces, Bengal and Bihar, it is stated that the number of 
Kayasths may perhaps even now exceed that of all other 
castes taken together. 1 And in Gujarat the Kayasths 
have lost in recent years the monopoly they once enjoyed 
as Government clerks. 2 The Mathura Kayasths of Gujarat 
are said to be declining in prosperity on account of the 
present keen competition for Government service, 3 of 
which it would thus appear they formerly had as large a 
share as they desired. The Prabhus, the writer -caste of 
western India corresponding to the Kayasths, were from 
the time of the earliest European settlements much trusted 
by English merchants, and when the British first became 
supreme in Gujarat they had almost a monopoly of the 
Government service as English writers. To such an extent 
was this the case that the word Prabhu or Purvu was the 
general term for a clerk who could write English, whether 
he was a Brahman, Sunar, Prabhu, Portuguese or of English 
descent. 4 Similarly the word Cranny was a name applied 
to a clerk writing English, and thence vulgarly applied in 
general to the East Indians or half-caste class from among 
whom English copyists were afterwards chiefly recruited. 
The original is the Hindi karani, kirani, which Wilson 
derives from the Sanskrit karan, a doer. Karana is also 
the name of the Orissa writer-caste, who are writers and 
accountants. It is probable that the name is derived from 
this caste, that is the Uriya Kayasths, who may have been 
chiefly employed as clerks before any considerable Eurasian 
community had come into existence. Writers' Buildings at 
Calcutta were recently still known to the natives as Karani 
ki Bank, and this supports the derivation from the Karans 
or Uriya Kayasths, the case thus being an exact parallel to 
that of the Prabhus in Bombay. 5 

From the above argument it seems legitimate to deduce 

1 Bhattacharya, Hindu Castes and 4 Ibidem, p. 68, and Mackintosh, 
Tribes, p. 177. Report in the Ramosis, India Office 

2 Hindus of Gujarat, p. 81. Tracts, p. 77. 

3 Ibidem, p. 67. 5 Hobson-Jobson, s.v. Cranny. 


that the Kayasths formerly occupied a lower position in 4. The 
Hindu society. The Brahmans were no doubt jealous of profession 
them and, as Dr. Bhattacharya states, would not let them of the 
learn Sanskrit. 1 But when India became subject to foreign ayas 
rulers the Kayasths readity entered their service, learning 
the language of their new employers in order to increase 
their efficiency. Thus they first learnt Persian and then 
English, and both by Muhammadans and English were 
employed largely, if not at first almost exclusively, as clerks 
in the public offices. It must be remembered that there 
were at this time practically only two other literate castes 
among Hindus, the Brahmans and the Banias. The Brahmans 
naturally would be for long reluctant to lower their dignity 
by taking service under foreign masters, whom they regarded 
as outcaste and impure ; while the Banias down to within 
the last twenty years or so have never cared for education 
beyond the degree necessary for managing their business. 
Thus the Kayasths had at first almost a monopoly of public 
employment under foreign Governments. It has been seen 
also that it is only within about the last century that the 
status of the Kayasths has greatly risen, and it is a legitimate 
deduction that the improvement dates from the period when 
they began to earn distinction and importance under these 
governments. But they were always a literate caste, and 
the conclusion is that in former times they discharged duties 
to which literacy was essential in a comparatively humble 
sphere. " The earliest reference to the Kayasths as a 
distinct caste," Sir H. Risley states, " occurs in Yajnavalkya, 
who describes them as writers and village accountants, very 
exacting in their demands from the cultivators." The pro- 
fession of patwari or village accountant appears to have been 
that formerly appertaining to the Kayasth caste, and it is 
one which they still largely follow. In Bengal it is now 
stated that Kayasths of good position object to marry their 
daughters in the families of those who have served as 
patwaris or village accountants. Patwaris, one of them said 
to Sir H. Risley, however rich they may be, are considered 
as socially lower than other Kayasths, e.g. Kanungo, Akhauri, 
Pande or Bakshi. Thus it appears that the old patwari 

1 Hobson-Jobson, p. 167. 



5- The 
caste an 

Kayasths are looked down upon by those who have improved 
their position in more important branches of Government 
service. Kanungo, as explained, is a sort of head of the 
patwaris ; and Bakshi, a post already noticed as held by a 
Kayasth in the Central Provinces, is the Muhammadan office 
of paymaster. 

Similarly Mr. Crooke states that while the higher 
members of the caste stand well in general repute, the 
village Lala (or Kayasth), who is very often an accountant, 
is in evil odour for his astuteness and chicanery. In Central 
India, as already seen, they are Kanungos of Districts and 
patwaris of villages ; and here again Malcolm states that 
these officials were the oldest settlers, and that the later 
comers, who held more important posts, did not intermarry 
with them. 1 In Gujarat the work of collecting the revenue 
in the Surat tract was entrusted to Kayasths. Till 1868, 
in the English villages, and up to the present time in the 
Baroda villages, the subdivisional accountants were mostly 
Kayasths. 2 In the Central Provinces the bulk of the 
patwaris in the northern Districts and a large proportion in 
other Districts outside the Maratha country are Kayasths. If 
the Kayasths were originally patwaris or village accountants, 
their former low status is fully explained. The village 
accountant would be a village servant, though an important 
one, and would be supported like the other village artisans 
by contributions of grain from the cultivators. This is the 
manner in which patwaris of the Central Provinces were 
formerly paid. His status would technically be lower than 
that of the cultivators, and he might be considered as a 
Sudra or a mixed caste. 

As regards the origin of the Kayasths, the most probable 
hypothesis would seem to be that they were an offshoot of 
Brahmans of irregular descent. The reason for this is that 
the Kayasths must have learnt reading and writing from 
some outside source, and the Brahmans were the only class 
who could teach it them. The Brahmans were not disposed 
to spread the benefits of education, which was the main 
source of their power, with undue liberality, and when 
another literate class was required for the performance of 

1 Memoir of Central India, lor. cit. 2 Hindus of Gujarat, p. 60. 


duties which they disdained to discharge themselves, it 
would be natural that they should prefer to educate people 
closely connected with them and having claims on their 
support. In this connection the tradition recorded by Sir 
H. Risley may be noted to the effect that the ancestors of 
the Bengal Kayasths were five of the caste who came from 
Kanauj in attendance on five Brahmans who had been 
summoned by the king of Bengal to perform for him certain 
Vedic ceremonies. 1 It may be noted also that the Vidurs, 
another caste admittedly of irregular descent from Brahmans, 
occupy the position of patwaris and village accountants in 
the Maratha districts. The names of their subcastes indicate 
generally that the home of the Kayasths is the country of 
Hindustan, the United Provinces, and part of Bengal. This 
is also the place of origin of the northern Brahmans, as 
shown by the names of their most important groups. The 
Rajputs and Banias on the other hand belong mainly to 
Rajputana, Gujarat and Bundelkhand, and in most of this 
area the Kayasths are immigrants. It has been seen that 
they came to Malwa and Gujarat with the Muhammadans ; 
the number of Kayasths returned from Rajputana at the 
census was quite small, and it is doubtful whether the 
Kayasths are so much as mentioned in Tod's Rajasthan. 
The hypothesis therefore of their being derived either from 
the Rajputs or Banias appears to be untenable. In the 
Punjab also the Kayasths are found only in small numbers 
and are immigrants. As stated by Sir H. Risley, both the 
physical type of the Kayasths and their remarkable intel- 
lectual attainments indicate that they possess Aryan blood ; 
similarly Mr. Sherring remarks : " He nevertheless exhibits 
a family likeness to the Brahman ; you may not know 
where to place him or how to designate him ; but on looking 
at him and conversing with him you feel quite sure that you 
are in the presence of a Hindu of no mean order of intellect." 2 
No doubt there was formerly much mixture of blood in the 

1 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. the king of Bengal. This, however, 

Bengal Kayasth. The Kayasths deny is improbable in view of the evidence 

the story that the five Kayasths were already given as to the historical status 

servants of the five Brahmans, and of the Kayasths. 
say that they were Kshatriyas sent on 
a mission from the king of Kanauj to - Tribes and Castes, ibidem. 

4 , 4 KAYASTH part 

caste ; some time ago the Kayasths were rather noted for 
keeping women of other castes, and. Sir H. Risley gives 
instances of outsiders being admitted into the caste. Dr. 
Bhattacharya states 1 that, "There are many Kayasths in 
eastern Bengal who are called Ghulams or slaves. Some of 
them are still attached as domestic servants to the families 
of the local Brahmans, Vaidyas and aristocratic Kayasths. 
Some of the Ghulams have in recent times become rich land- 
holders, and it is said that one of them has got the title of 
Rai Bahadur from Government. The marriage of a Ghulam 
generally takes place in his own class, but instances of 
Ghulams marrying into aristocratic Kayasth families are at 
present not very rare." 

Further, the Dakshina Rarhi Kayasths affect the greatest 
veneration for the Brahmans and profess to believe in the 
legend that traces their descent from the five menial 
servants who accompanied the five Brahmans invited by 
kino- Adisur. The Uttara Rarhi Kayasths or those of 
northern Burdwan, on the other hand, do not profess the 
same veneration for Brahmans as the southerners, and deny 
the authenticity of the legend. It was this class which held 
some of the highest offices under the Muhammadan rulers 
of Bengal, and several leading zamlndars or landholders at 
present belong to it. 2 It was probably in this capacity of 
village accountant that the Kayasth incurred the traditional 
hostility of one or two of the lower castes which still subsists 
in legend. 3 The influence which the patwari possesses at 
present, even under the most vigorous and careful supervision 
and with the liability to severe punishment for any abuse of 
his position, is a sufficient indication of what his power 
must have been when supervision and control were almost 
nominal. On this point Sir Henry Maine remarks in his 
description of the village community : " There is always a 
village accountant, an important personage among an 
unlettered population ; so important indeed, and so con- 
spicuous that, according to the reports current in India, 
the earliest English functionaries engaged in settlements of 
land were occasionally led, by their assumption that there 

1 Hindu Castes and Sects, p. 155. 2 Ibidem, pp. 375, 380. 

3 See articles on Ghasia and Dhobi. 


must be a single proprietor somewhere, to mistake the 
accountant for the owner of the village, and to record him 
as such in the official register. 1 In Bihar Sir H. Risley 
shows that Kayasths have obtained proprietary right in a 
large area. 

It may be hoped that the leading members of the 6. The 
Kayasth caste will not take offence, because in the dis- ^ ces 
cussion of the origin of their caste, one of the most interest- Kayasths 
ing problems of Indian ethnology, it has been necessary p"^^^ 
to put forward a hypothesis other than that which they hold position, 
themselves. It would be as unreasonable for a Kayasth to 
feel aggrieved at the suggestion that centuries ago their 
ancestors were to some extent the offspring of mixed unions 
as for an Englishman to be insulted by the statement that 
the English are of mixed descent from Saxons, Danes 
and Normans. If the Kayasths formerly had a compara- 
tively humble status in Hindu society, then it is the more 
creditable to the whole community that they should have 
succeeded in raising themselves by their native industry and 
ability without adventitious advantages to the high position 
in which by general admission the caste now stands. At 
present the Kayasths are certainly the highest caste after 
Brahman, Rajput and Bania, and probably in Hindustan, 
Bengal and the Central Provinces they may be accounted 
as practically equal to Rajputs and Banias. Of the Bengal 
Kayasths Dr. Bhattacharya wrote : 2 " They generally prove 
equal to any position in which they are placed. They have 
been successful not only as clerks but in the very highest 
executive and judicial offices that have yet been thrown 
open to the natives of this country. The names of the 
Kayastha judges, Dwarka Nath Mitra, Ramesh Chandra 
Mitra and Chandra Madhava Ghose are well known and 
respected by all. In the executive services the Kayasths 
have attained the same kind of success. One of them, Mr. 
R. C. Dutt, is now the Commissioner of one of the most 
important divisions of Bengal. Another, named Kalika Das 
Datta, has been for several years employed as Prime 
Minister of the Kuch Bihar State, giving signal proofs of 

1 Village Communities, p. 125. 
2 Hindu Castes and Sects, ibidem, p. 177. 


4l6 KAYASTH part 

his ability as an administrator by the success with which he 
has been managing the affairs of the principality in his 
charge." In the Central Provinces, too, Kayasth gentlemen 
hold the most important positions in the administrative, 
judicial and public works departments, as well as being 
strongly represented in the Provincial and subordinate execu- 
tive services. And in many Districts Kayasths form the 
backbone of the ministerial staff of the public offices, a class 
whose patient laboriousness and devotion to duty, with only 
the most remote prospects of advancement to encourage 
them to persevere, deserve high commendation. 

The northern India Kayasths are divided into the fol- 
Sub- lowing twelve subcastes, which are mainly of a territorial 


(a) Srivastab. {g) Mathur. 

(b) Saksena. (k) Kulsreshtha. 

(c) Bhatnagar. (z) Suryadhwaja. 
id) Ambastha or Amisht. (k) Karan. 

(e) Ashthana or Aithana. (/) Gaur. 

(/) Balmik or Valmlki. (jn) Nigum. 

{a) The Srivastab subcaste take their name from the old 
town of Sravasti, now Sahet-Mahet, in the north of the 
United Provinces. They are by far the most numerous 
subcaste both there and here. In these Provinces nearly 
all the Kayasths are Srivastabs except a few Saksenas. 
They are divided into two sections, Khare and Dusre, 
which correspond to the Blsa and Dasa groups of the 
Banias. The Khare are those of pure descent, and the 
Dusre the offspring of remarried widows or other irregular 

(b) The Saksena are named from the old town of San- 
kisa, in the Farukhabad District. They also have the Khare 
and Dusre groups, and a third section called Kharua, which 
is said to mean pure, and is perhaps the most aristocratic. 
A number of Saksena Kayasths are resident in Seoni Dis- 
trict, where their ancestors were settled by Bakht Buland, 
the Gond Raja of Deogarh in Chhlndwara. These consti- 
tuted hitherto a separate endogamous group, marrying among 
themselves, but since the opening of the railway negotiations 


have been initiated with the Saksenas of northern India, 
with the result that intermarriage is to be resumed between 
the two sections. 

(V) The Bhatnagar take their name from the old town of 
Bhatner, near Bikaner. They are divided into the Vaishya or 
Kadim, of pure descent, and the Gaur, who are apparently 
the offspring of intermarriage with the Gaur subcaste. 

(d) Ambastha or Amisht. These are said to have 
settled on the Girnar hill, and to take their name from their 
worship of the goddess Ambaji or Amba Devi. Mr. Crooke 
suggests that they may be connected with the old Ambastha 
caste who were noted for their skill in medicine. The prac- 
tice of surgery is the occupation of some Kayasths. 1 It is 
also supposed that the names may come from the Ameth 
pargana of Oudh. The Ambastha Kayasths are chiefly 
found in south Bihar, where they are numerous and 
influential. 2 

(e) Ashthana or Aithana. This is an Oudh subcaste. 
They have two groups, the Purabi or eastern, who are found 
in Jaunpur and its neighbourhood, and the Pachhauri or 
western, who live in or about Lucknow. 

(f) Balmlk or Valmiki. These are a subcaste of western 
India. Balmlk or Valmlk was the traditional author of the 
Ramayana, but they do not trace their descent from him. 
The name may have some territorial meaning. The Valmiki 
are divided into three endogamous groups according as they 
live in Bombay, Cutch or Surat. 

(g) The Mathur subcaste are named after Mathura or 
Muttra. They are also split into the local groups Dihlawi 
of Delhi, Katchi of Cutch and Lachauli of Jodhpur. 

(/*) The Kulsreshtha or 'well-born' Kayasths belong 
chiefly to the districts of Agra and Etah. They are divided 
into the Barakhhera, or those of twelve villages, and the 
Chha Khera of six villages. 

(z) The Suryadhwaja subcaste belong to Ballia, Ghazi- 
pur and Bijnor. Their origin is obscure. They profess 
excessive purity, and call themselves Sakadwlpi or Scythian 

1 Tribes and Castes, art. Kayasth. 

2 Bhallackarya, loc. cil., p. 188. 

VOL. Ill 2 V, 

4lS KAYASTH part 

(/•) The Karan subcaste belong to Bihar, and have two 
local divisions, the Gayawale from Gaya, and the Tirhutia 
from Tirhut. 

(/) The Gaur Kayasths, like the Gaur Brahmans and 
Rajputs, apparently take their name from Gaur or Lakh- 
nauti, the old kingdom of Bengal. They have the Khare 
and Dusre subdivisions, and also three local groups named 
after Bengal, Delhi and Budaun. 

(;//) The Nigum subcaste, whose name is apparently 
the same as that of the Nikumbh Rajputs, are divided into 
two endogamous groups, the Kadlm or old, and the Unaya, 
or those coming from Unao. Sometimes the Unaya are 
considered as a separate thirteenth subcaste of mixed 
3. Exo- Educated Kayasths now follow the standard rule of 

gam7 " exogamy, which prohibits marriage between persons within 
five degrees of affinity on the female side and seven on the 
male. That is, persons having a common grandparent on 
the female side cannot intermarry, while for those related 
through males the prohibition extends a generation further 
back. This is believed to be the meaning of the rule but 
it is not quite clear. In Damoh the Srivastab Kayasths 
still retain exogamous sections which are all named after 
places in the United Provinces, as Hamlrpur ki baink 
(section), Lucknowbar, Kashi ki Pande (a wise man of 
Benares), Partabpuria, Cawnpore-bar, Sultanpuria and so on. 
They say that the ancestors of these sections were families 
who came from the above places in northern India, and 
settled in Damoh ; here they came to be known by the 
places from which they had immigrated, and so founded new 
exogamous sections. A man cannot marry in his own 
section, or that of his mother or grandmother. In the 
Central Provinces a man may marry two sisters, but in 
northern India this is prohibited. 
9. Mar- Marriage may be infant or adult, and, as in many places 

husbands are difficult to find, girls occasionally remain un- 
married till nearly twenty, and may also be mated to boys 
younger than themselves. In northern India a substantial 
bridegroom-price is paid, which increases for a well-educated 
boy, but this custom is not so well established in the Central 


Provinces. However, in Damoh it is said that a sum of 
Rs. 200 is paid to the bridegroom's family. The marriage 
ceremony is performed according to the proper ritual for the 
highest or Brahma form of marriage recognised by Manu 
with Vedic texts. When the bridegroom arrives at the 
bride's house he is given sherbet to drink. It is said that 
he then stands on a pestle, and the bride's mother throws 
wheat-flour balls to the four points of the compass, and 
shows the bridegroom a miniature plough, a grinding pestle, 
a churning-staff and an arrow, and pulls his nose. The 
bridegroom's struggles to prevent his mother-in-law pulling 
his nose are the cause of much merriment, while the two 
parties afterwards have a fight for the footstool on which he 
stands. 1 An image of a cow in flour is then brought, and 
the bridegroom pierces its nostrils with a little stick of gold. 
Kayasths do not pierce the nostrils of bullocks themselves, 
but these rites perhaps recall their dependence on agriculture 
in their capacity of village accountants. 

After the wedding the bridegroom's father takes various 
kinds of fruit, as almonds, dates and raisins, and fills the 
bride's lap with them four times, finally adding a cocoanut 
and a rupee. This is a ceremony to induce fertility, and 
the cocoanut perhaps represents a child. 

The following are some specimens of songs sung at 10. Mar- 
weddings. The first is about Rama's departure from Aiodhia nage 

r j songs. 

when he went to the forests : 

Now Hari (Rama) has driven his chariot forth to the jungle. 

His father and mother are weeping. 

Kaushilya 2 stood up and said, ' Now, whom shall I call my diamond 

and my ruby ? ' 
Dasrath went to the tower of his palace to see his son ; 
As Rama's chariot set forth under the shade of the trees, he wished that 

he might die. 
Bharat ran after his brother with naked feet. 
He said, ' Oh brother, you are going to the forest, to whom do you give 

the kingdom of Oudh ? ' 
Rama said, ' When fourteen years have passed away I shall come back 

from the jungles. Till then I give the kingdom to you.' 

The following is a love dialogue : 

1 Hindus of Gujarat, p. 72. 
2 Dasrath and Kaushilya were the father and mother of Rama. 

420 KAYASTH part 

Make a beautiful garden for me to see my king. 

In that garden what flowers shall I set? 

Lemons, oranges, pomegranates, figs. 

In that garden what music shall there be ? 

A tambourine, a fiddle, a guitar and a dancing girl. 

In that garden what attendants shall there be ? 

A writer, a supervisor, a secretary for writing letters. 1 

The next is a love-song by a woman : 

How has your countenance changed, my lord ? 

Why speak you not to your slave ? 

If I were a deer in the forest and you a famous warrior, would you not 

shoot me with your gun ? 
If I were a fish in the water and you the son of a fisherman, would you 

not catch me with your drag-net ? 
If I were a cuckoo in the garden and you the gardener's son, would you 

not trap me with your liming-stick ? 

The last is a dialogue between Radha and Krishna. 
Radha with her maidens was bathing in the river when 
Krishna stole all their clothes and climbed up a tree with 
them. Girdhari is a name of Krishna : 

R. You and I cannot be friends, Girdhari ; I am wearing a silk- 
embroidered cloth and you a black blanket. 

You are the son of old Nand, the shepherd, and I am a princess of 

You have taken my clothes and climbed up a kadamb tree. I am 
naked in the river. 

K. I will not give you your clothes till you come out of the water. 

R. If I come out of the water the people will laugh and clap at me. 

All my companions seeing your beauty say, ' You have vanquished us ; 
we are overcome.' 

ii. Social Polygamy is permitted but is seldom resorted to, except 

for the sake of offspring. Neither widow- marriage nor 
divorce are recognised, and either a girl or married woman 
is expelled from the caste if detected in a liaison. A man 
may keep a woman of another caste if he does not eat from 
her hand nor permit her to eat in the chauk or purified 
place where he and his family take their meals. The prac- 
tice of keeping women was formerly common but has now 
been largely suppressed. Women of all castes were kept 
except Brahmans and Kayasths. Illegitimate children were 
known as Dogle or and called Kayasths, ranking as 

1 These are the occupations of the Kayasths. 


an inferior group of the caste. And it is not unlikely that 
in the past the descendants of such irregular unions have 
been admitted to the Dusre or lower branch of the different 

During the seventh month of a woman's pregnancy a 12. Birth 
dinner is given to the caste-fellows and songs are sung. custonis - 
After this occasion the woman must not go outside her own 
village, nor can she go to draw water from a well or to 
bathe in a tank. She can only go into the street or to 
another house in her own village. 

On the sixth day after a birth a dinner is given to the 
caste and songs are sung. The women bring small silver 
coins or rupees and place them in the mother's lap. The 
occasion of the first appearance of the signs of maturity in a 
girl is not observed at all if she is in her father's house. 
But if she has gone to her father-in-law's house, she is 
dressed in new clothes, her hair after being washed is tied 
up, and she is seated in the cliaiik or purified space, while 
the women come and sing songs. 

The Kayasths venerate the ordinary Hindu deities. 13. Reii- 
They worship Chitragupta, their divine ancestor, at weddings glon ' 
and at the Holi and Diwali festivals. Twice a year they 
venerate the pen and ink, the implements of their profession, 
to which they owe their great success. The patwaris in 
Hoshangabad formerly received small fees, known as dizvat 
pfija, from the cultivators for worshipping the ink-bottle on 
their behalf, presumably owing to the idea that, if neglected, 
it might make a malicious mistake in the record of their 

The dead are burnt, and the proper offerings are made 14. Social 
on the anniversaries, according to the prescribed Hindu customs - 
ritual. Kayasth names usually end in Prasad, Singh, Baksh, 
Sewak, and Lala in the Central Provinces. Lala, which is a 
term of endearment, is often employed as a synonym for the 
caste. Dada or uncle is a respectful term of address for 
Kayasths. Two names are usually given to a boy, one for 
ceremonial and the other for ordinary use. 

The Kayasths will take food cooked with water from 
Brahmans, and that cooked without water (pakki) from 
Rajputs and Banias. Some Hindustani Brahmans, as well 



15. Occu- 

as Khatris and certain classes of Banias, will take pakki food 
from Kayasths. Kayasths of different subcastes will some- 
times also take it from each other. They will give the 
huqqa with the reed in to members of their own subcaste, 
and without the reed to any Kayasth. The caste eat the 
flesh of goats, sheep, fish, and birds. They were formerly 
somewhat notorious for drinking freely, but a great reform 
has been effected in this respect by the community itself 
through the agency of their caste conference, and many are 
now total abstainers. 

The occupations of the Kayasths have been treated in 
discussing the origin of the caste. They set the greatest 
store by their profession of writing and say that the son of 
a Kayasth should be either literate or dead. The following 
is the definition of a Lekhak or writer, a term said to be 
used for the Kayasths in Puranic literature : 

" In all courts of justice he who is acquainted with the 
languages of all countries and conversant with all the 
Shastras, who can arrange his letters in writing in even and 
parallel lines, who is possessed of presence of mind, who 
knows the art of how and what to speak in order to carry 
out an object in view, who is well versed in all the Shastras, 
who can express much thought in short and pithy sentences, 
who is apt to understand the mind of one when one begins 
to speak, who knows the different divisions of countries and 
of time, 1 who is not a slave to his passions, and who is 
faithful to the king deserves the name and rank of a Lekhak 
or writer." 2 

1. General 

Kewat, Khewat, Kaibartta. 3 — A caste of fishermen, 
boatmen, grain-parchers, and cultivators, chiefly found in the 
Chhattlsgarh Districts of Drug, Raipur, and Bilaspur. They 
numbered 170,000 persons in 191 1. The Kewats or 
Kaibarttas, as they are called in Bengal, are the 
modern representatives of the Kaivartas, a caste mentioned 
in Hindu classical literature. Sir H. Risley explains the 

1 Geography and Astronomy. Mr. Mahfuz Ali, tahslldar, Rajnand- 

2 Quoted from the Matsapuran in a £ aon ' Mr. Jowahir Singh, Settlement 
criticism by Babu Krishna Nag Verma. Superintendent, Sambalpur, and Mr. 

Aduram Chaudhri of the Gazetteer 

3 This article is based on papers by Office. 


origin of the name as follows : l " Concerning the origin of 
the name Kaibartta there has been considerable difference 
of opinion. Some derive it from ka, water, and vartta, 
livelihood ; but Lassen says that the use of ka in this sense 
is extremely unusual in early Sanskrit, and that the true 
derivation is Kivarta, a corruption of Kimvarta, meaning a 
person following a low or degrading occupation. This, he 
adds, would be in keeping with the pedigree assigned to the 
caste in Manu, where the Kaivarta, also known as Margava 
or Dasa, is said to have been begotten by a Nishada father 
and an Ayogavi mother, and to subsist by his labour in 
boats. On the other hand, the Brahma- Vaivarta Purana 
gives the Kaibartta a Kshatriya father and a Vaishya mother, 
a far more distinguished parentage ; for the Ayogavi having 
been born from a Sudra father and a Vaishya mother is 
classed as pratiloma, begotten against the hair, or in the 
inverse order of the precedence of the castes." The Kewats 
are a mixed caste. Mr. Crooke says that they merge on 
one side into the Mallahs and on the other into the Binds. 
In the Central Provinces their two principal subdivisions are 
the Laria and Uriya, or the residents of the Chhattisgarh 
and Sambalpur plains respectively. The Larias are further 
split up into the Larias proper, the Kosbonwas, who grow 
kosa or tasar silk cocoons, and the Binjhwars and Dhuris 
(grain-parchers). The Binjhwars are a Hinduised group of 
the Baiga tribe, and in Bhandara they have become a separ- 
ate Hindu caste, dropping the first letter of the name, and 
being known as Injhwar. The Binjhwar Kewats are a 
group of the same nature. The Dhuris are grain-parchers, 
and there is a separate Dhuri caste ; but as grain-parching 
is also a traditional occupation of the Kewats, the Dhuris 
may be an offshoot from them. The Kewats are so closely 
connected with the Dhlmars that it is difficult to make any 
distinction ; in Chhattisgarh it is said that the Dhlmars will 
not act as ferrymen, while t